Sunday, April 4, 2010

Regina Nuessle

"She passed away," the owner of Eutopia books told me, when I asked about Regina. "She was very ill; she closed the shop, and then she passed away." When I had seen Regina's farewell sign on the Galerie d'Arts Decoratifs, which had been next door to Eutopia on Jefferson Avenue in South Beach, I assumed Regina's business had not survived the economic downturn. It was shocking that she had not survived.

Regina's gallery was a triumph over entropy, the principle by which all things tend toward disorder. There was no disorder in her shop and none in her person. She wore only black or black and white, usually a white blouse with black pants. Her taste was strict, rigorous, elegant. On rare occasions her arrangements felt chilly. Though she was German by birth, having lived in Paris, which she thought of as her true home, she dealt, for some years, in French Art Deco furniture, and then as those pieces became scarcer began to sell mid-century modern.

One Christmas, about twelve years ago, shortly after we had bought a condo on Meridian Avenue, I wandered by her shop for the first time and saw her astonishing Christmas window decorated with various, colorful porcelain. Her windows were happenings. Often she would display the work of local artists; Ena Marrero was one. In Regina's window were Ena's fanciful animals and her curtain of marvelous stockings knotted with chunks of gorgeous glass. She also handled the work of architect Richard Meier.

In the shop Regina was all business. I never knew her to miss a day of work, but sometimes I would see her having dinner at Da Leo after she had closed for the day. Done with business, having drunk wine and eaten pasta, she would greet me with a lavish embrace. She would also let herself go with flowers, always dozens of white lilies--no other flower--which she would crowd into a vase. The perfume would seep under the door: intensely fragrant.

Easter morning, when the altar of the Community Church on Lincoln Road bore the weight of enormous vases of white lilies, I went to Regina's shop again; her sign with its "au revoir" was gone.

The shop was empty. Regina had her office on the balcony at the top of the spiral staircase. Below her meticulously organized work space, the elegant objects of her collection played with and against each other. I'll miss her and her creations.


  1. I'm so sorry for your loss, Mim. Sometimes those are the only words. We root around for others to offer comfort, forgetting for the moment that for a while there is no comfort, only grief, only loss.

  2. My sincere condolences.

  3. i can only sense the extent of your acquaintance with this woman, but i empathize with the kind of intimacy that is possible to feel from the familiarity with someone else's taste, choice of objects, a discreet conversation.
    the loss is real.

  4. I was intrigued by your post. I found her website which was very sketchy on details of her life and background and I could find no obit. The furnishings and objects shown on the site are exquisite.

  5. I should add that your photo of the empty shop is not only poignant, but so evocative of Cartier-Bresson -- the ghostly little girl. You have the eye.

  6. Susan, Regina and I saw each other every winter for the past twelve years. I admired her spirit and taste. We were not intimate friends, yet we were connected.
    Bluedog: I too could not find an obituary. Everything Regina had built disappeared so quickly and left me with an even stronger sense of how ephemeral life is. Regina was such a spark of energy and talent--all gone.

  7. There is much poignancy in this memorial to your friend, Mim.
    The empty space echoes with her absence.

    I'm sure you know that Regina means 'queen'... no doubt carefully chosen, her royal name.

  8. oh, she sounds like such a clearly defined, delineated woman, so crisp and organized. Thank you for posting this.

  9. I can imagine how this must feel like..
    To loose someone in the life-surroundings, even if it's not an intimate friend, but anyway someone who came from kind of same-planet..
    I feel sorry about it, Mim.
    All the best, smilla

  10. Your touching tribute just brought a fascinating little peek- into a little of you as well.
    Regards, Regina-

  11. i loved her...
    i will always remember her...

    mario mirabel

  12. Sorry to hear, I knew her from Stuttgart, even before the interior design began, when she owned a pub and a bar. I was a young lad my father took along on occasions, barely reaching drinking age. I miss the times, and she will be greatly remembered for her integrity.