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

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 from feminists making art to street activism, it also covered the mainstream, from pop culture to peacemaking. The Broadside team uncovered the work of female artists and developed challenging and risky new ideas, all while participating in the day-to-day organizing of a grassroots movement.

Broadside helped reinvent journalism to make room for a feminist voice. This collection looks at the impact of the newspaper on the lives of women. Through a selection of key articles, the book explores the issues and events, the conflicts and controversies, and the debates and discoveries of feminist theory and activism that formed the context and content of a decade of change.

Buy the book here.

“LE TORONTO IMAGINAIRE” IN TORONTO NO MEAN CITY

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. This reprint of the third edition, prepared by Stephen Otto, updates Arthur's classic to include information and illustrations uncovered since the appearance of the first edition.

Four new essays were commissioned for this reprint. Christopher Hume, architecture critic and urban affairs columnist for the Toronto Star, addresses the changes to the city since the appearance of the third edition in 1986. Architect and heritage preservation activist Catherine Nasmith assesses the current status of the city's heritage preservation movement. Susan Crean, a freelance writer in Toronto, explores Toronto's vibrant arts scene. Mark Kingwell, professor and cultural commentator, reflects on the development of professional and amateur sports in and around town.

Readers will delight in these anecdotal accounts of the city's rich architectural heritage.

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 Wolpe (’64) and artist Lawrence Alloway and John Cage (’65). The works she produced between 1968-1978 stand as meditative monuments to the grid as a visual structure that continues to offer up transformative possibilities.

Buy the book Jerry Grey on the Grid 1968-1978 here.

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

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 "a fond memoir, well-written, a modest and excellent little book, throws new light on her methods of painting and describes the humourous adventures of camping with Emily Carr.” It also contains edited versions of 20 letters written by Carr to her friend, and the cover features a rare painting of Carr recently discovered. M.E. was first published in 1969 and has been out of print for years.

Susan Crean wrote the introduction to the book.

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

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 Adams following his early death 2003. I was contacted by Allana Lingren early on in the project and agreed to write about Lawrence’s fascination with new electronic technology. Most specifically, how he deployed video to record the work of Canadian choreographers and dancers, and how he and his partner Miriam Adams later started a weekly arts review Night Lights on community television that led to a proposal for a Pay-TV licence in 1981. The book evolved into a larger look at the decade of the seventies in dance. I got to know Lawrence and Miriam then,  artists from all disciplines were working together to establish a Canadian-made art scene. I appeared on Night Lights several times and worked with Lawrence in the Artists’ Alliance.

For more background, see the article on Lawrence and Miriam Adams in The Canadian Encyclopedia.

Download a PDF version (443Kb) of “Launching the Global Village.”

Buy the book here.

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

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 – Light, Spirit, Time, Place and Life, an exhibition he mounted at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2011/12. Jack died of leukemia at the age of forty-seven in 1978.

Introducing the section “My Jack Chambers” Dennis wrote ‘Jack Chambers has exerted a remarkably broad influence through both his work and the example of his life To give some sense of this surprising scope of his impact, we have asked four people, each prominent in his or her field, to relate briefly a meaningful experience of the artist and/or his art. Each has responded with a profoundly personal account.’ The other three were Michael Ondaatje, John Scott and Eric Fischl.

I write about my work with Jack in the last ten years of his life, when, knowing he was dying, he nevertheless devoted a huge amount of energy to political work as national representative of the newly founded visual artists union Canadian Artists’ Representation, CAR/FAC.

Download a PDF version (130Kb) of “Carrots for Breakfast.”

“MILTON AND MICHEL” IN GEIST 77

In Geist 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 Michel online here.

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

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 — Once there lived a woman, The Painting, Poetry and Politics of Shirley Bear. It was curated by Terry Graff who asked me to write this essay. I met Shirley when the PEN International Congress was held at Harbourfront in Toronto in 1989 and I was chair of the Writers in Prison of PEN Canada.  As we had access to the York Quay Gallery at Harbourfont along with other rooms, the WIP Committee invited Shirley to open Changers: A Spiritual Renaissance there. Changers was a touring exhibition of contemporary Indigenous women’s art organized by the National Indian Arts and Crafts Corporation and curated by Shurley. The artists were Rebecca Baird, Shirley Bear, Rebecca Belmore, Ruth Cuthand, Freda Diesing, Faye HeavyShield, Glenna Matoush, Shelley Niro, Alanis Obomsawin, Jane Ash Poitras, Joane Cardinal-Schubert.

Download a PDF version (897Kb) of “N’tow’wik’hegat (She who knows how to make images).”

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

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.... The story of Canada I was raised on, thus, denied the connection between assimilation and appropriation, between the past and the present."

For several years I worked on the issue of Traditional Knowledge with Greg Young-Ing who was a founding co-chair of the Creator’s Right’s Alliance in 2002 along with Michel Beauchemin and me (representing respectively Indigenous Peoples, Quebec and Canada). Greg was an editor of the second volume of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s anthology called Response, Responsibility, and Renewal — Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Journey, and following a conversation we had in Toronto about the non-involvement of Canadians who are not directly implicated in the residential school tragedy (ie. the State, the churches, the victims, and the individual perpetrators of abuse who happened to get caught) he suggested I write something. The third volume looks at “Cultivating Canada — Reconciliation through the lens of Cultural Diversity" and also makes the point that reconciliation is everyone’s business.

Download a PDF version of the essay "Both Sides Now: Designing White Men and the Other Side of History."

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

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 article chronicles the evolution of Indigenous theatre work in recent years, and profiles some of the extraordinary artists behind it.

Read Riel’s Prophecy: The New Confidence of Aboriginal Theatre  online here.