This Is­sue

Canadian Art - - This Issue -

His­tory can be mis­lead­ing. Take for in­stance the Oc­to­ber 1967 edi­tion of artscanada—the “Black” is­sue. It was a loaded theme that promised, on the sur­face at least, to ad­dress the sim­mer­ing un­rest of the time head on. Only a few months ear­lier, vi­o­lent race ri­ots and protests had erupted in more than 150 cities across the United States—in­clud­ing bor­der cities such as Buf­falo, Chicago and, most dra­mat­i­cally, Detroit—in what has be­come known as the “long, hot sum­mer of 1967.” What we find in the artscanada pages, how­ever, is some­thing al­to­gether dif­fer­ent. The en­tire is­sue was ded­i­cated to a tran­scribed con­fer­ence call be­tween Toronto and New York in Au­gust that year, where two artists, two mu­si­cians, an ar­chi­tect, a film­maker and a so­ci­ol­o­gist—all men, all white, with the ex­cep­tion of Black Amer­i­can com­poser and poet Ce­cil Tay­lor—de­bated “black” as a qual­ity of colour in paint; as per­cep­tual blind­ness; as re­li­gious metaphor; as sta­sis, nega­tion and noth­ing­ness. Aside from the in­clu­sion of a Black Pan­ther sym­bol to il­lus­trate the text, the burn­ing racial ten­sions of the time were mostly ig­nored. Much has changed—and not changed—since the “Black” is­sue hit news­stands 50 years ago. Yet in look­ing back at that is­sue, what be­comes strik­ingly ap­par­ent, and im­por­tant, is not the flawed his­tory it con­tains, but the real sto­ries that are glar­ingly ab­sent from its pages. It is th­ese miss­ing nar­ra­tives, the hid­den, sup­pressed, over­looked and other­wise un­told his­to­ries of Cana­dian art, that are the fo­cus of this cur­rent is­sue. Think of it as our sesqui­cen­ten­nial-year counter-canon: read the lit­tle-known sto­ries of pi­o­neer­ing artists Florence Mcgil­livray and Grafton Tyler Brown; the un­der-rec­og­nized in­flu­ence of Que­bec critic René Payant and Indige­nous artists René High­way, Ahasiw Maskegon-iskwew, Archer Pechawis and Terry Haines, whose lives were cut short by HIV/AIDS; the wind­ing tale of a 17th-cen­tury paint­ing stolen dur­ing the Sec­ond World War and re­turned to its right­ful own­ers; the on­go­ing work of Black women cu­ra­tors across the coun­try; and much more. Th­ese are the sto­ries that mat­ter now and set the record straight for his­to­ries yet to come.

Cover of artscanada’s Oc­to­ber 1967 is­sue, from the Cana­dian Art ar­chives.

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