Coffee With … Regina Bogat

Regina Bogat is a world-class artist, widow of the late Alfred Jensen and a veteran of the bustling New York City art scene of the mid 20th century, though her life and work are barely known in Glen Ridge, where she and Jensen moved in 1972.

But on Sunday, Bogat will enjoy a local renaissance when some 1,200 to 1,400 participants in the Fitzgerald’s 1928 Lager Run will wear a t-shirt bearing Decagon VII, one of her Stars series, now on display at Art 101 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

The painting was chosen by race organizer Dan Murphy. Murphy knows Bogat through dog walking, and when he received an invitation from Bogat for her gallery opening it hit him immediately what the painting was about: endorphins.

“He is very excited about this painting,” Bogat said, who said Murphy called it ‘the runner’s rush.’ She says slyly: “Dan Murphy pulled me out of obscurity.”

Bogart and the late Jensen, who lived in Chinatown, were drawn by a specific house in Glen Ridge, which was built for the artist Conrad Rossi-Diehl, and which boasted an oversized third-floor studio with northern light. Although the house was a wreck, and Glen Ridge far too conservative and proper for Bogat, she made it her home. “You adjust,” she said. “I made friends with the mothers like I’m doing with the [owners of] the dogs now.”

Jensen got the giant studio upstairs, while Bogat worked in a former parlor near the front door — where should keep an eye on comings and goings of the kids.

“It was a very good environment for him,” Bogat says. “He did some of his greatest paintings here.”

Because of the dearth of art supply stores in the area, Bogat did a series of pieces using sewing trimmings, which she got from a tiny shop in Bloomfield. The paintings sold quickly, and were so tactile that people literally couldn’t take their hands off them. (She allowed me to touch one.) A tour of her home reveals a succession of styles, but Bogat declines the label of abstract expressionist — or any other label. “I’m not an ism.”

One of the most charming series is her collection of boxes, which display things she has had trouble parting with, from an old sterling silver razor to a collection of rose thorns.

As for Glen Ridge, she grudgingly gives it credit for evolving, though it never did provide a replacement for the artistic community she left in the city. “It’s gradually changing,” she said. “It’s not all lily white. It’s not so WASPy.”

Register for the Lager Run (and to get the t-shirt) here. Bogat, who keeps her age a secret, plans to attend, but not run.

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