15 August 2011

Glenn Goluska

June 26, 1947 – August 13, 2011

Glenn Goluska, one of Canada’s great typographers, died in Montreal on Saturday after a brief battle with cancer.

Glenn grew up in Chicago and came to Canada as a student at the University of Toronto. After graduation, Glenn worked briefly in the United States before landing (on a whim, while on vacation, his then-wife Anne waiting in the car) a job as a typesetter at Coach House Press in Toronto. The work Glenn did at Coach House Press constitutes one of the most important bodies of book design in modern Canadian publishing, on par with the accomplishments of Tim Inkster, Frank Newfeld or Allan Fleming.

Glenn left Coach House to pursue letterpress printing full-time, producing many influential books and broadsides and completing commissions for people like Margaret Atwood and the Bronfman family in Montreal. His imprints were Imprimerie Dromadaire and Nightshade Press.

Later in his career, Glenn relocated to Montreal, where he worked for the Canadian Centre for Architecture and then as a freelancer for McGill-Queens Press.

Glenn was diagnosed with lung cancer last fall. I was able to travel to Montreal twice this spring while he was still relatively healthy, including in May when he was awarded the Robert Reid lifetime achievement medal by the Alucin Society of Canada, recognizing his considerable contribution to Canadian design. Glenn is survived by two brothers, his first wife, Anne, and his second wife, Bernadette.

Bernadette, Glenn and Stan Bevington in Montreal this past May

A number of tributes to Glenn’s life are being discussed by his friends and colleagues, including an exhibition and some sort of publication (a catalogue or a book). One tribute is more immediate: Glenn’s long-time friend Rod McDonald has designed a typeface named Goluska, which will have its first public showing in the forthcoming issue (No. 21) of Parenthesis, which I am producing for the Fine Press Book Association in my shop this very week. This issue contains a spread of reproductions of some of Glenn’s design work and a short tribute by Chester Gryski. When I was designing the jacket, which I printed letterpress on my vandercook, I was aware that Glenn’s life was winding down; its somber tones are a quiet tribute to the passing of a friend.

Glenn had a strong bond with Gaspereau, and was a frequent attendee to our wayzgoose and open house. There was a kinship in the swagger of our design styles and our love of fine typography; admiration that was mutual. I was surprised and honoured a number of years ago when Glenn asked me if I would take on his letterpress shop once he died and move it to Gaspereau Press. At the time, Glenn’s death was a distant, abstract idea to both of us, but now it is as bold and black and real as oversized wooden type inked and slammed into a piece of dampened paper. We’ll sort out the logistics of that move in the coming months and think about how we will keep his memory alive by using the machinery and type that he loved to make beautiful things.

This is a short and incomplete tribute, and I will write more of Glenn and his work as I have time to reflect. For now, I think I’ll just find a little Scott Joplin to play and raise a glass to my great brother in letters.



Robert Tombs said...

Very sad news.

Fred Louder said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fred Louder said...

Glenn was arguably the finest Canadian typographic designer since Carl Dair. He had the sort of design talent that appears once in a generation. I deeply regret his passing.

Allison said...

He will be much missed. Here is a photo of Glenn at his linotype machine that I took back in 2007.

elizabeth forrest said...

Glenn’s passion for type as manifested in his beautiful work, had the quality of great art. It gave one the ability to see anew as one felt a consciousness of intent in every detail. Glenn was a true artist in every sense of the word. I feel fortunate that I reconnected with him two years ago when in Montreal, having not been in touch since the 80’s. I was reminded of his passion for collecting, for good drink, good food and intense living. He was great human being.
Elizabeth Forrest

Anonymous said...

Canada has lost a giant from the design world. An intellectual and creative scholar. Glenn remained until his last hour, under appreciated in his genre, and coveted by his friends and peer's
Overly modest,shy,reserved and genuine. It will be revealed, Glenn Goluska and his work will be studied by future generations.
Admirer of good wine, champion of the bicycle, and the protector of cartier St-Henri. I'll miss your nervous laugh.

Robert MacDonald said...

Glenn Goluska and I collaborated for a while in a dark and dangerous times of black ink, eager poetry, warm beer and hot metal. We shared a deep and abiding love of letters, and pressed each one close to our hearts, and set them lovingly in metal, and pressed them into paper with an impossible care. We also shared a common passion for the warm caress of textured paper. We folded all those interests into our pursuit of insight, and the making of almost-perfect objects of desire. The great distance of time and passages has not dimmed my grateful memories of those days. My library still holds some of Glenn's rare gems of craftsmanship. He was a strange, talented, intense and wonderful friend and colleague, and I treasure the memories of the time we had together. God speed.

Robert MacDonald
Okanagan Institute