Mr. Struggan sends his regards.

Mr. Struggan’s October Festivities Playlist

Wilson and Nico here. It’s Friday the 11th, and what a better day to release into the world Mr. Struggan’s October Festivities Playlist. This month’s entry into Mr. Struggan’s playlist series is one of our finest to date, and features many treats (and a few tricks to keep you on your toes), including tracks from Leonard Cohen, Chairlift, Haim, Pogo, and many more. Enjoy!

Mr. Struggan sends his regards. 

(Source: Spotify)

Regarding Sean Scully: Change and Horizontals at The Drawing Center


Sean Scully: Change and Horizontals
The Drawing Center, New York
Sept 27 - Nov 3, 2013

Wilson here. With Fall hitting New York fast, Mr. Struggan asked me last week to begin checking the art calendars for openings to cover. The focus of this weeks art review is the new Sean Scully exhibition at The Drawing Center. The exhibition showcases some of Scully’s early works on paper from the 1970s. Scully has always stood on the periphery of my art historical knowledge, so I was excited to have an excuse to learn more about the artist and his work. 

Scully, born in Dublin in 1945, is without a doubt one of the most accomplished Irish artists of the 20th century, his paintings having been acquired by museums around the world from the MoMA and National Gallery in the US to the Tate Modern in London. The Drawing Center’s exhibition focuses on two series of works on paper, executed in London in 1974 and soon after his arrival in New York in 1975. These 13 drawings are precisely composed in ink, acrylic, graphite, and masking tape and feature arrangements of Scully’s signature vertical and horizontal bands in plaid-like patterns. Accompanying these drawings are 60 framed pages of preparatory sketches from Scully’s notebooks and two large related paintings, also from 1975.  6 experimental works on paper, abstract text compositions made with a typewriter, are also on view. 

Being somewhat familiar with Scully’s paintings from New York’s museum collections, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the exhibition; the rough, patched compositions of his later work, though impressive, have never really resonated with me. That being said, I was really taken by this early work. It displays a much more refined technical quality, focused simply on line and color, and illuminated for me considerably the direction he took as his work evolved later in his career.

The exhibition shines in taking the opportunity to narrate this particular period early in Scully’s career. The notebook pages, framed in ten sequences, dominate the back wall and offer the viewer a rarely seen glimpse into the artist’s process. The two paintings on view in the front of the gallery further contextualize the work, showing how the ideas worked out on paper progressed and matured into large-scale works on canvas. Unfortunately, curators Brett Littman and Joanna Kleinberg took their narrative focus a bit too far. Wall texts at every turn overworked the “early career biography” angle and had too much to say about work that is fully capable of speaking for itself. Additionally, the six typewriter sketches in the show, seemingly included only because they fell into the same time frame as the other work on view, just weren’t interesting. All in all though, Scully’s work is definitely worth seeing if you find yourself in SoHo and jonsing for some good  mid-1970s abstract art. 

Mr. Struggan sends his High Regards

The Mr. Struggan Foundation's Summer Loans

Hello, dear readers, Nico and Wilson here. A sad casualty of Mr. Struggan’s dormant summer has been a lack of funds for the Mr. Struggan Foundation, a Kiva lending team for microloans to loan applicants in the developing world. 

Now that Mr. Struggan is back in action, he is making up for some lost time, and instructed us to disperse funds retroactively for his May, June, July, August, and September loans. Please check out our summer loan recipients below and consider joining Mr. Struggan’s lending team and making a difference. 

May: Carlos Alberto, Columbia [fully funded!]
June: Gbenonkpo Group, Benin [fully funded!]
July: Janet, Kenya [fully funded!, via Kiva ZIP]
August: Richard, USA [$2,355 to go, via Kiva ZIP]
September: Estrellas Celestes Group, Bolivia [$2,400 to go]

Mr. Struggan sends his warm regards. 

Mr. Struggan’s Blue September Playlist

Hey folks, Wilson and Nico here, pleased to present some chilly tracks for and exceedingly chilly month. We hope you enjoy Mr. Struggan’s Blue September Playlist, a choice selection of music for your listening pleasure from the likes of Lou Reed, OutKast, Elvis Presley, the Yardbirds, and more. 

Mr. Struggan sends his regards. 

(Source: Spotify)

Regarding Cowboys Don’t Sing

Cowboys Don’t Sing, 2013
Written and directed by Dennis Flynn
[image courtesy of Tim Leuke]

Wilson here. As you may recall, we previously reported, at Mr. Struggan’s request, on the premiere of Cowboys Don’t Sing, a musical written by some dear friends of Mr. Struggan, Misters Dennis Flynn and Johnny Kelley. Last month, Cowboys re-emerged as part of the New York International Fringe Festival, staging five performances to rave reviews. This finally afforded me an opportunity to see the show, and offer you, dear readers, a long-overdue review of one of the finest western musicals ever written. 

Cowboys Don’t Sing spins a riotously smart yarn, sending up pretty much every trope and cliche of the western and musical genres you can possibly think of. The curtains rise on a fantastic opening number; a train full of hopeful travelers headed out to the old west, whose optimism at the chance for a fresh start are swiftly, and hilariously, interrupted by a gang of train robbers. Among the passengers are Alice (Megan Beaty) and Max (Jeffrey Sharkey), new transplants to the “singin’ town” of Tombstone Junction, whose residents are fond of regularly expressing themselves though practiced and synchronized song and dance (Mr. Struggan welcomed this clever plot device, which solved for him the main reason he usually hates musicals).

The train heist, along with the mysterious arrival to town of the eponymous Cowboy (TJ Alcala), sends the Sheriff (Matt van Orden) and citizens of Tombstone Junction into a frenzy of twistful suspense and ingeniously clever musical numbers. The end result is a supremely entertaining and satisfying play. The production triumphs in large part due to Flynn’s fresh and confident writing, an exceptional score from Kelley and Alcala, and a tremendous ensemble cast (Beaty, Sharkey, and van Orden deliver standout performances).

Cowboys Don’t Sing is currently in the midst of an extended run, part of the Fringe Festival’s Encore Series. There are two more performances scheduled for this week, Wednesday the 25th and Thursday the 26th, at The Players Theater, 115 MacDougal Street, New York City. 

Mr. Struggan sends his Highest Regards

Regarding Burning Man

Burning Man, 2013
Black Rock City, Nevada
Aug 26 - Sep 2

Nico here. During the last week of July, I received a call from Mr. Struggan, who informed me that I would be traveling on assignment to Burning Man, an annual arts festival in Black Rock City. Mr. Struggan doesn’t travel much anymore these days, but he was very interested in contrasting my experience at the event with his memories of Bohemian Grove. My dust goggles, a keffiyeh, and my camera packed, I set off to what the New York Times recently called an “annual bacchanal in the parched Nevada desert.”

At 68,000 participants, the festival is a huge undertaking that requires strict organization and regulation, despite its roots as a haven for outsiders. Installations and performances straddle between anarchic and DIY to the more organized and institutional. In any case, participants, stripped from connection to the “default world”, create beauty on the Martian landscape.

Burning Man is difficult to explain to the uninitiated, but the photos above present a glimpse of the range of its happenings. The first photo above shows a Burner during happy hour at Bat Country, a camp devoted to the author Hunter S. Thompson and his work. Despite the event actually being on “Hunter S. Tuesday”, at least a dozen Hunters showed up to the camp on Wednesday. The next two photos are of the Lithuania CORE Project, part of a collection of regional effigies that surrounded the Man. The final photo was taken at twilight on the playa, the hazy sky caused both by dust and possibly some smoke from the fires at Yosemite National Park.

I was surprised to see how much of Burning Man’s signature aesthetic is born of necessity. On the barren playa, heat and dust are about the only two forces of nature. Some costumes are for show, but after you’ve camped in the desert for a few days, you can help but start looking a little weird. And if you’re not wearing any glow sticks, you’re likely going to get run over by a bike or yelled at (“darkwad!”). 

I was skeptical of the kind of art that the event could host, but my doubts quickly evaporated in the hot Nevada sun. Burning Man is such a huge immersive, participatory—if you’re doing it right—experience that you are compelled quickly to adapt to the environment and landscape. Black Rock City has a thriving culture as diverse and vibrant as any permanent city, and the range of experiences is not only daunting, but impossible to fully experience. A great cure for FOMO.

But, as some Burners put it, “It’s just a camping trip.”

Mr. Struggan sends his Highest Regards.