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 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.


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.


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.


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.”


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.


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. Tippett's subtitle - The Making Of An Indian - identifies the theme of her study, and it's obvious that she perceives Reid as something of a charlatan. The inconsistencies in his story about his relationship to his Haida ancestry are seen as opportunistic, as are his collaborations with other artists and his use of assistants in his large-scale carvings.

Read Susan Crean's book review "Reid Reduced" of Maria Tippett's Bill Reid: The Making of an Indian online here.


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," was featured in This Magazine in the August/September issue in 1987.


Fuse, Volume 34, Number 3; Summer 2011 (Originally published in 1987).

"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 in their own communities, too. Some of them, notably Carole Condé and Karl Beveridge, and Mike Constable, are still around and much in evidence. Last year, editor Gina Badger put together an issue of Fuse, titled Performing Politics for 35 Years republishing a number of articles from the archives. Writers include Deborah Root (1996), bell hooks — interview by Ayanna Black (1990), Rachel Gorman (2007) and Greg Staats (2001). A great issue!

Read Labour Working With Art in PDF.


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 Canadian Art.

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