Although his excursions into film were successful, art was always Regen's primary focus. Born and raised in New York City, he studied arts administration at Skidmore College before working at the alternative art space PS 1 in Long Island City, New York. He then went to the Rudolf Zwirner Gallery in Cologne, Germany and later took a job in Santa Monica at the Fred Hoffman Gallery. Regen remained in California, and in 1989 opened the Stuart Regen Gallery in West Hollywood, later renamed Regen Projects Gallery. He played an art teacher in the 1996 coming of age drama "Foxfire," bringing his two creative lives together. In 1998, Regen died at the age of 39 after a battle with cancer.