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Art: How A Vacant Window Became An Edgy Art Gallery

Randy Regier

A wonderful new collaboration has received the support from the prestigious John S and James L Knight Foundation. Activate Wichita, a website that serves as a virtual town hall, has partnered with the Wichita Public Library to commission temporary art installations in vacant downtown windows.

This installation project was initially the idea of Kacy Crider and Seth Blume. Before partnering with the library, Krider and Blume created playful-yet-edgy window displays in vacant downtown spaces.

One of their first installations was on the corner of Douglas and St. Francis, at the old Zellman building where Espresso To-Go-Go is currently located.

Now the project’s mantle is being taken up by artist Kristin Beal.

Beal is the creative and organizational force behind some of the city’s most beloved art events, such as the Ulrich Museum’s yarn bombing and the Riverfest Art Pride Parade. This Final Friday, Beal and artist Randy Regier will reveal the next window installation.

Regier has given the ground floor of the Sterling Water Systems building, at Market and William, an installation featuring his signature post-war Americana style centering on the theme, “The Future of the Public Library.”

Overall, this project teems with possibilities.

I love the idea of bringing art out of the museum, out of the gallery, and putting it in city spaces to be enjoyed by the community. Not to mention it’s been good to the realtors of these spaces as well. And whether this project continues to get support from the public library or not, I hope this creative practice is here to stay.

Randy Regier's project statement:

Ad Astra Per Bibliotheca

The Library, for me, has always been a place of World-making. As a child, it was where I had access to virtually all things known, unknown and yet to be known. At times I would (and still do) roam the aisles and stacks – an explorer of time and space in a vast carpeted, lit, climate-controlled edifice - simply wondering what I might discover next; what knowledge I might acquire that I knew not a moment before there was to be had. The child I was then lives on, and still hungers for nothing less than meaning, substance, knowledge – the desire for a continued renewal of my first love for this World.

The Library is also – among many, many other things - a collection. As an artist, I also am a collector. Discerned and rigorous collecting at an institutional and individual level is of fundamental importance to the art of being human. The future of the Library was the subject I was asked to address in this work. I believe in the future of the Library because its proven stewardship of our collective material and intellectual history, thus the Library is still a bridge I trust to worlds yet unknown. My window installation is composed of books and toys because of their conceptual and material symmetry.They serve to articulate, I hope, my gratitude for what the Library has meant to me in my life, but also how I know it must continue to evolve and to renew itself in such rapidly changing times. “For children can accomplish the renewal of existence in a hundred unfailing ways…to renew the old world, that is the collector’s deepest desire…” (Walter Benjamin).

In the window at Market and William Streets I have sought to make a world:

“The blocks from which the world is made…Everything is here. Comfort, conflict, nightmares, experience, hierarchies, anarchy, freedom, discipline, beginnings, adventures, prejudices, creation, scientific research, social rituals, prohibition, transgression, sex, metaphysics, knowledge, death…what isn’t here does not yet exist.” (Alberto Manguel)

May the Library always exist as a place of renewal.

Randy Regier, 2013