Harley Parker, 1915-1992 

Harley Parker was first and foremost an artist—he was also a designer, curator, professor and scholar and a frequent collaborator with communications theorist, Marshall McLuhan. Parker was born in Fort William, Ontario in 1915. He graduated from Toronto’s Ontario College of Art in 1939 and from there proceeded to work professionally as an artist. Later in his career, in 1946, he pursued further studies with Josef Albers at Black Mountain College in Virginia. From 1947 through 1957 he taught colour theory, design and watercolour painting at the Ontario College of Art.

In 1957, he assumed the position of Head of Design and Installations at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto, a post which he retained for a decade. During a year-long sabbatical from his teaching position, he became an Associate Professorat Fordham University sharing the Albert Schweitzer Chair of Communications with Professor Marshall McLuhan. From 1967 until 1975, Parker became involved with McLuhan at the Centre for Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto as aResearch Associate. His work there revolved around investigating the relationships between the arts and sciences in the 20th century. It was during these years that he collaborated most closely with Marshall McLuhan, co-authoring two titles, Through the Vanishing Point: Space in Poetry and Painting, and Counterblast. In 1973, Parker was selected to be the first Institute Professor of Communications at theRochester Institute of Technology, in New York State. He returned to Canada the following year to continue his work with McLuhan at the Centre for Culture and Technology.

Parker retired from his scholarly career in 1976, whereupon he moved to British Columbia to live and paint in the West Kootenay. He participated in many solo and group exhibitions across Canada and the globe, until his death in 1992.



Harley Parker with Marshall McLuhan

Harley Parker with Marshall McLuhan

1915 Born in Fort William, Ontario

1939 Graduated from the Ontario College of Art, in Toronto

1946 Studied at Black Mountain College, in Virginia, with Josef Albers

1947 - 57 Taught colour, design and watercolour painting at the Ontario College of Art

1957 - 67 Head of Design and Installations at the Royal Ontario Museum. For a sabbatical year held the position of Associate Professor at Fordham University, sharing the Albert Schweitzer Chair of Communications with Professor Marshall McLuhan

1967 - 75 Research Associate with the Centre for Culture and Technology, University of Toronto

1973 Held the initial Chair for the William A. Kern Institute Professor of Communications at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, N.Y.

1976 - 89 Retired. Moved to British Columbia to live and paint in the West Kootenay

1989 - 1992 Lived in Vancouver, BC

Died March 3, 1992

Recipient of two Canada Council Grants for Study in Europe
Recipient of a British Council of the Arts Grant
Past President of the Canadian Society of Graphic Art
Former member of the Canadian Watercolour Society

Harley Parker lectured extensively in Canada, America, Australia, Europe, Africa and Japan; his audience included groups related to: art, politics, education and religion.

He co-authored, with Marshall McLuhan, Through the Vanishing Point: Space in Poetry and Painting (Harper & Row, New York, 1968).

He designed several works for Professor McLuhan, the last one being Counterblast(Harcourt-Brace & World Inc., New York 1969).

Over his career Parker published widely, including papers in Harvard Art Review,Art InternationalCanadian Art1973 AnnualNational Association for Studies in Education, Chicago, contributor to This Cybernetic Age, Ed. Don Toppin,Information Incorporated Pr. New York, 1969, Living in the Seventies, Ed. Allen M. Linden, Peter Martin Associates, Toronto, 1970 and was a contributing author to the 1974 Year Book, The National Society for the Study of Education. Work in progress: Museums Are Today.

Numerous galleries have exhibited the paintings of Harley Parker, among them are: Bau-Xi Gallery, Vancouver & Toronto, Prince Arthur Gallery, Toronto, and the Moos Gallery, Toronto. His paintings are represented in many private collections.

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