ON CANADIAN ARTS & CULTURE

I’ve been writing articles, essays, and introductions for long enough to have a bibliography several pages long. Here are a few recent pieces published in magazines, newspapers, anthologies and exhibition catalogues.

Articles listed here downloadable in PDF format have been provided by the original publishers, whom I wish to thank. Where possible, links to the publishers are provided.

To peruse writing by format, visit Articles & Essays.

ESSAYS AND ARTICLES ON CANADIAN ARTS

“THE DINNER PARTY: INDIGESTION FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT,” IN INSIDE BROADSIDE

Essay featured in Inside Broadside: A Decade of Feminist Journalism. Ed, Philinda Masters, Second Story Press Oct. 8 2019.

"The point is not to criticize Chicago for her choice of guests; nor for attempting to take in all of western civilization in her sweep of history.... The point is, however, that Chicago's politics are not particularly radical. Her visualization of feminism, rhetoric aside, fits right in with the trendy notions of 'liberated' upper class matrons."

Broadside: A Feminist Review was a groundbreaking Canadian feminist newspaper published between 1979 and 1989. While Broadside paid attention to everything...

“LE TORONTO IMAGINAIRE” IN TORONTO NO MEAN CITY

Essay featured in Toronto No Mean City, University of Toronto Press, Jun. 21, 2017. Eric Arthur fell in love with Toronto the first time he saw it. The year was 1923; he was twenty-five years old, newly arrived to teach architecture at the University of Toronto. For the next sixty years he dedicated himself to saving the great buildings of Toronto's past. Toronto, No Mean City sounded a clarion call in his crusade. First published in 1964, it sparked the preservation movement of the 1960s and 1970s and became its bible....

MONOGRAPH: “JERRY GREY ON THE GRID 1968-1978”

Monograph published by The Ottawa Art Gallery; 1st edition (October 12, 2016). Authors: Susan Crean and Michelle Gewurtz. Working in oils, watercolour, pastels and glass media, Jerry Grey explores themes of nature, politics and history. Her work from the 1970s links directly to her time participating in the highly influential Emma Lake Artists’ Workshops in Saskatchewan. Modern painting in North America was evolving toward ever more austere, reduced realms of colour and form and Grey participated in the 1964 and 1965 Emma Lake Artists’ Workshops, which were jointly led by painter Jules Olitsky & composer Stefan...

“INTRODUCTION” TO M.E. A PORTRAYAL OF EMILY CARR

"Introduction" to M.E. A Portrayal of Emily Carr written by Edythe Hembroff-Schleicher, Mother Tongue (Feb. 15 2014). M.E. A Portrayal of Emily Carr is a rare and moving study of an artist’s struggle against despair and loneliness and an intimate portrayal of the close friendship between Edythe and Emily. The two artists were good friends and met not long after Edythe had returned from Paris where she had studied art. Written as a friendly appreciation of the character of Emily Carr, rather than her life, Edythe Hembroff-Schleicher's rendering was described in reviews of the time as...

“LAUNCHING THE GLOBAL VILLAGE” IN RENEGADE BODIES: CANADIAN DANCE IN THE 1970S

Essay featured in Renegade Bodies: Canadian Dance in the 1970s. Eds., Allana Lingren and Kaija Pepper. Victoria: University of Victoria Press, 2012.

"Comprising 15 essays by Canadian writers and scholars, Renegade Bodies is a book that embraces lively discussion about artistic and cultural shifts along with the social and political transformations of the 1970s. How were dance and its practitioners affected by the vigorous and varying beliefs, the principles and key societal trends of the times?"
Renegade Bodies: Canadian Dance in the 1970s began as an anthology to celebrate the life and achievements of dancer Lawrence...

“CARROTS FOR BREAKFAST” IN JACK CHAMBERS – LIGHT, SPIRIT, TIME, PLACE AND LIFE

Essay featured in Jack Chambers – Light, Spirit, Time, Place and Life. Ed. Dennis Reid. Fredericton: Goose Lane Editions & Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, 2011.

"To Jack, the equation was simple: artists were providing a service and not being paid for it. What irked was the failure of the Gallery to approach them as professionals, or to recognize their right, by law, to remuneration when their work is reproduced."
Carrots for Breakfast was one of four essays curator Dennis Reid asked friends of painter Jack Chambers to write for the catalogue to Jack Chambers...

“MILTON AND MICHEL” IN GEIST 77

Article featured inGeist 77, Summer 2010.

"Milton was a wordsmith of flair and stamina. A great poet, but also a great prose stylist, a sharp political analyst and a speaker of Homeric proportions. It took just one experience—of the poet reading his own work, or the revolutionary reading the Riot Act—to appreciate the erudition behind the argument, and the spell of the imagery."
Michel Lambeth's photo of Milton Acorn brings back memories of dancing, love poetry and a revolution. Read Susan Crean's article Milton and...

“N’TOW’WIK’HEGAT (SHE WHO KNOWS HOW TO MAKE IMAGES)”

Essay featured in Net wikuhpon ehit — Once there lived a woman, The Painting, Poetry and Politics of Shirley Bear, Curator, Terry Graff. Fredericton: Beaverbrook Art Gallery, 2009.

"To know Shirley Bear is to experience her language, the Wabanaki language spoken by the First Peoples living in the valley of Wulustook (the Saint John River) and the community known as Negootkook (Tobique First Nation) where Bear was born and raised."
In 2009 the Beaverbrook Gallery in Fredericton honoured visual artist and writer Shirley Bear with a retrospective exhibition called Net wikuhpon ehit...

“BOTH SIDES NOW: DESIGNING WHITE MEN AND THE OTHER SIDE OF HISTORY”

Essay fetured in Response, Responsibility, and Renewal — Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Journey. Eds., Gregory Young-Ing, et al. Ottawa, Aboriginal Healing Foundation, 2009.

"Along with the narrative about the founding of Canada by both the French and the English came the notion—preached by the likes of Emily Carr and Marius Barbeau, as well as D.C. Scott—of Aboriginal culture constituting Canada’s ancient past, the prehistory upon which the modern nation could be built and with which an authentic Canadian culture could be fashioned."
For several years I worked on the issue of Traditional Knowledge with

“RIEL’S PROPHECY – THE NEW CONFIDENCE OF ABORIGINAL THEATRE”

Article featured in The Walrus, April, 2008. In The Walrus, April, 2008.

“My people will sleep for one hundred years. When they awake, it will be the artists that give them back their spirit.” — Louis Riel.
I spent ten fabulous years on the board of directors of Native Earth Performing Arts, the country’s oldest professional Indigenous performing arts company. During that time I saw the creative process at work and close-up, and witnessed the evolution of many plays and performances from gleam in the eye to full scale production. This...

THE PRESENTATION OF SELF IN EMILY CARR’S WRITINGS

Essay featured in Emily Carr: New Perspectives on a Canadian Icon. Curators, Charles C. Hill, et al. Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 2006.

"Sophie would have shared her cultural knowledge and many of her insights on art with a woman whom she was so fond of, a woman who would nevertheless go on to demean and primitivize her existence after her death."
I wrote this essay with Shirley Bear for the exhibition Emily Carr: New Perspectives on a Canadian Icon organized by the National Gallery and the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2006. It is based on...

BOOK REVIEW: “REID REDUCED” IN NOW MAGAZINE

Book Review of Bill Reid: The Making of an Indian by Maria Tippett (Random House) in Now Magazine, March 4, 2004 

Maria Tippett is first out of the gate with her bio of renowned Haida artist Bill Reid. It covers the bases, delivering a readable, informative text about the artist's life and work (Reid died of Parkinson's disease in 1998), but it's a cranky, limited first read of the man.
Read Susan Crean's book review "Reid Reduced" of Maria Tippett's Bill Reid: The Making of an Indian online...

WITNESS TO WILDERNESS: THE CLAYOQUOT SOUND ANTHOLOGY

Essay featured in Witness To Wilderness: The Clayoquot Sound anthology Arsenal Press, 1994. An all-star collection of essays, poems, and photographs by 120 writers and artists to celebrate the ancient forests of Clayoquot Sound on Vancouver Island. Contributors include: Don Coles, Susan Crean, Lorna Crozier, Des Kennedy, Joy Kogawa, Patrick Lane, Mary Meigs, Susan Musgrave, P. K. Page, Al Purdy, Raeside, Phyllis Webb, and George and Inge Woodcock....

“THE EROTIC NATIONALISM OF JOYCE WIELAND” IN THIS MAGAZINE

Articled featured in This Magazine 21.

"Hers is not museum art, in format, size or feel; and you don’t have to come equipped with a theory in order to understand it. The images, stories and symbols she uses are the stuff of daily life and everyone’s history: airplanes and sailboats, hearts and flowers, flags and beavers, Laura Secord and Nellie McClung."
"Forbidden Fruit: The Erotic Nationalism of Joyce Wieland," appeared in This Magazine in the August/September issue in 1987....

“LABOUR WORKING WITH ART” IN FUSE MAGAZINE

Article featured in Fuse, Volume 34, Number 3; Summer 2011.

"The first critique of cultural policy that tends to emerge, then, is a class analysis expressed in terms of the twin issues of accessibility and portrayal (or the right of working people to see themselves reflected and respected in the media)."
I wrote this piece to document the extensive work being done by a handful of activist visual artists who were busy making connections and common cause with unions, in many instances working with groups like the Steelworkers on cultural projects. They often were active organizing artists...

“NOTES FROM THE LANGUAGE OF EMOTION, A CONVERSATION WITH JOYCE WIELAND”

Interview featured in Canadian Art, Spring 1987.

"JW: In New York there was a strong male Establishment and once you got in the door it was like joining the biggest bank in the world. You were bankable; you were the item. I recognized how easy it would have been to go along with the aesthetic and even remember a woman asking me, "Why don't you paint like them and then maybe you would get a gallery?" But where would I have been as a woman?"
Susan Crean interviewed Canadian artist Joyce Wieland for...

“THE THIRTY PERCENT SOLUTION: SEXISM IN FINE ART” IN THIS MAGAZINE

Article featured in This Magazine, January 1984.

"In 1978 Ottawa artist Jane Martin was the first to brave the opprobrium of the art world by tallying up figures on the number of Canadian Council grants awarded to women in the visual arts, comparing that to the number of women present on the juries. What was truly startling about Martin's findings was the underrepresentation of women."
Susan Crean's "The Thirty Percent Solution: Sexism in Fine Art," was reprinted in Canadian Women's Issues: Volume I: Strong Voices. By Ruth Roach Pierson, Marjorie Griffin Cohen, Paula Bourne, Philinda Masters. Lorimer...

BOOK REVIEW “BODY BLOW TO ART HISTORY” IN BROADSIDE

Book Review of Feminism and Art History: Questioning the Litany, Norma Broude and Mary D. Garrard, eds., New York: Harper & Row. 1982  

They are the gatekeepers of Official Culture and responsible for devising an aesthetic which legitimizes the values of the modern artistocracy—the mandarins, tycoons and idle rich who hold the purse, strings and govern the policies which control the arts. Excellence, it turns out, is in the eye of the beholder and from experience we know that it is rarely either female or Canadian.
"Body Blow to Art History" can be...

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