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Jerry Reganess & art

Updated: Jul 20, 2019

Artist Jerry Reganess in his studio. Photo by Katie Collins.

By Katie Collins Follow Katie @Lifestyles51

MILFORD - Happiness derived from participation in the arts, has given Jerry Reganess much joy through the years. Today, the 64-year-old local artist says he’s involved in many aspects of art in his community because it’s about the creativity and connecting with others that he likes.

Whether it be poetry, music, photography or more, Reganess has or is likely dabbling in it at the moment. Through the many forms, Reganess says art is about peoples’ feelings and the creation of “emotional connection,” is principal to the piece’s power. When art causes some kind of reaction, it is then, that the artist has accomplished something, because the work has spoken to that person.

Before art

Today, Reganess has a focus on collages and photography. The collages are crafted through images he takes, or finds here and there. Before retirement, he did insurance, lectured in college and later discovered his interests in the arts when involved in the American Standards Committee, which led him to learn about his own art and how it must catch peoples’ attention, inspiring him to own an art shop in Milford. But then a switch to construction, which he considered to be one of the best jobs, because of the people he worked with.

Considering how he was once, not involved in the arts like he is now, Reganess questions what he must’ve missed but realizes the “benefits” he has since received that are making him happy.

Connecting with others

Retirement though, has introduced Reganess to many people, from all areas and so, he says people mustn’t “hesitate to connect and learn about anyone.” Reganess likes connecting, since it allows him to learn about others and see the many shared interests. By meeting so many, he has explored his own ideas and work, that has led him to a current “exploratory phase.” In the last two years he found photography and now, he’s experimenting with what he can do with his own photographs.

New discoveries

Now, aside from learning about himself, Reganess likes “appreciating other artists” he says, since he continues to try and learn from others, which led him to a new discovery of dance in Milford. The dancing he has seen, Reganess believes to be a form of visual expression, since the dancers uses their body to communicate through their eyes and respond to the music.

From his new discovery, Reganess is considering mixing dance with poetry at the open mics he helps organize, at the Frisky Goat in Milford every second Saturday of the month. From that, a person would read their poetry and a dancer would perform. The open mic has come to mean a lot to Reganess, since it too, is about the arts and meeting others.

A goal of the performances at the open mic Reganess says, is that the community becomes involved, which would offer additional, varying performers that would then interest more people. By having such a mix of interests, then connections would be created and lessons happen.

Communicating through art

Art, Reganess sees as a “method of communication” that connects with the soul, which is what he likes to do through his own work he says. When people see his work, Reganess wants there to be some “mystery” to the piece that makes someone think. With the collages, he uses varying colors, shapes and forms so they ae “visually interesting” he explains.

It wasn’t until Reganess opened his own shop that he started creating the collages “as an experiment” that soon started to sell he tells. But it wasn’t until retirement, that he was able to focus on his work, in part because he is still “working to stay alive” and to stay motivated and happy.

A collage Jerry Reganess created. Photo by Katie Collins

Connections & statements

Art, has “no rules” according to Reganess, such as with his collages he just works with what he finds because he hopes to make a statement that, in turn, will communicate with the viewer. To do his art, Reganess must observe and consider his surroundings. One such collage, “Beauty” reflects women of various nationalities or another that has faces of the likes of Norman Mailer, Johnny Mathis and Hugh Hefner each cut differently, so they aren’t recognizable. That piece is a part of a poem, that incorporates marijuana as the plant of virtue, a biblical quote and Rastafari colors with a dove to symbolize peace. That work is one of many versions because often, there is a lot of “trial and error” Reganess acknowledges.

Each collage though, Reganess hopes to tell a story just because, “life is a story” he says. The stories are abstract, with bits and pieces that include some focused and others that aren’t, but are all rearranged to have a new meaning.

Life today

Coming to where he is in his life now, still learning and meeting many is because exploring is a lifelong process Reganess says, in part since “life is about change” with many bumps along the way. But, because he feels his “years are numbered,” it’s important to consider “what am I here for?” and look to each day for something more. So, don’t be surprised if you see Reganess around Milford at events or just watching so he can get that great shot for his next piece.

Reganess’s work can be found at shops around Milford, or he is likely to be at every Open Mic, including the upcoming July 13 event at the Frisky Goat in Milford, that will be a tribute to Woodstock.

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