Harley Parker

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 Professor at 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 a Research 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 the Rochester 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.

This database, as it stands, is incomplete but will ultimately document all known works of Harley Parker. Current owners of the paintings, when known, are given. The main body of work is presently owned by the family, Margaret, Eric & Blake Parker. From time to time, a selection of the paintings from the Family Collection will be for sale under the menu choice FOR SALE. These paintings will be selected with different organizational criteria, i.e. BC Landscapes, Toronto Houses, Ontario Landscapes, etc. Prices listed are for the duration of the sale only. All enquiries are welcome.