Jeanne Wormith as a University of Toronto student in the early 1940s.

1922

Jeanne Wormith is born on December 8, 1922, in Toronto, the daughter of lawyer Norman Baillie Wormith and Edith Margaret Pepper (formerly from Ottawa).

 

1924-
1925

The Group of Seven show their work at the British Empire Exhibition, held in the northern London suburb of Wembley.

 

1929-
1931

During the student art competitions at the annual Canadian National Exhibition, Wormith, then a student at Whitney Public School in Toronto’s Moore Park neighbourhood, walks away with several prizes. She goes on to attend Forest Hill Public School, where she is encouraged to be self-expressive and get involved in the arts.

 

1941-
1945

After graduating from Bishop Strachan School, Wormith attends the University of Toronto and receives an Honours BA. Charles Comfort is among her instructors.

 

1945

Wormith begins graduate studies at Radcliffe College, Harvard University (her father’s alma mater) and completes an MA in Art History. While there, she also takes a museum training course with Paul J. Sachs, the director of the Fogg Museum.

 

1947

Starts working at the Art Gallery of Toronto (now the Art Gallery of Ontario) as the head of circulating exhibitions and adult education. The gallery has a staff of ten who work under the direction of Martin Baldwin. Wormith’s responsibilities also include programming films and overseeing the training of docents. 

 

1947

At the Art Gallery of Toronto, Wormith works on an exhibition about early Ontario architecture, for which she travels around the province with a professional photographer from Time Magazine, documenting the exteriors and interiors of typical regional buildings.

 

1948

Marries John C. Parkin, a Canadian architect who had launched his practice the previous year. In the next decade they have three children, John, Geoffrey, and Jennifer.

 

1954

Parkin joins the Art Gallery of Toronto Women’s Committee, a group of accomplished women with an extensive knowledge of contemporary art. She remains a member until 1974.

 

1954

The Painters Eleven, a collective of Canadian abstract artists, hold their first show at the Roberts Gallery in Toronto. Organized by group member Jack Bush, it is the first major commercial exhibition of Abstract Expressionist art to take place in the city.

 

1959

Encouraged by Painters Eleven member Harold Town, Dorothy Cameron—a close friend of Jeanne and a fellow member of the Art Gallery of Toronto Women’s Committee—opens the Here and Now Gallery on Cumberland Avenue in Yorkville. Like Av Isaacs, she goes on to open a gallery under her own name on Yonge Street in 1962.

 

1961

Parkin brings Alfred H. Barr Jr., the founding director of New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), to the Art Gallery of Toronto for its 15th Annual Exhibition and Sale of Contemporary Canadian Painting, Sculpture, and Graphics. He selects works by Jean McEwen, William Kurelek, and Ulysse Comtois to be added to the MoMA collection as a gift from the Women’s Committee.

 

1963

Parkin is named the vice-president of the Women’s Committee, developing important educational programs on contemporary art.

 

1965

Together with Marie Fleming, Parkin launches the Women’s Committee Art Rental Service at the Art Gallery of Toronto (now AGO Art Rental & Sales). Among the exhibitions held in the space allotted for the program, Parkin curates Five Lyrical Colour Painters (1971), featuring Abstract painters including Paul Fournier and David Bolduc.

 

Art Canada Institute's Living History: Jeanne Parkin. Title page of Ceramic Objects (1973), curated by Parkin.
Inside cover of the catalogue of Ceramic Objects, 1973, an exhibition curated by Parkin in the AGO's main gallery, with artists that were expanding the conventions of the ceramic medium.

1967

Curates the exhibition Plastics at the Art Gallery of Ontario, featuring works by Iain Baxter&, Greg Curnoe, Guido Molinari, Claes Oldenburg, Michael Snow, Harold Town, and Joyce Wieland.

 

1971

As the AGO’s chairman of Super Lottery 3, Parkin and her colleagues at the Women’s Committee raise $206,300 in donations.

 

1973

Curates Ceramic Objects, an exhibition of contemporary ceramic art featuring works by Joe Fafard, Gathie Falk, and David Gilhooly. Nina Wright, the founder of the cultural-philanthropy organization Arts & Communications Counselors, sees the exhibition and asks Parkin to join her team as senior vice-president.

 

1974

With Arts & Communications Counselors, Parkin coordinates the Art in the Subway project for the Toronto Transit Commission, which brings work by Joyce Wieland, Rita Letendre, Ted Bieler, Gordon Rayner, and Louis de Niverville to various stations along the Spadina subway line.

 

1975

Through Arts & Communications Counselors, Parkin produces The Canadian Canvas, a travelling exhibition through which Time Canada Ltd. provides funds for institutions across the country to purchase works by artists from other regions of Canada.

 

1976

Curates Changing Visions: The Canadian Landscape, selecting a wide scope of pieces from Reed Paper’s collection. Enraged by Reed Paper’s contamination of First Nations’ fishing waters in northern Quebec, some artists boycott the exhibition—including Joyce Wieland, who conceals her work with cloth.

 

1978

Organizes the programming for the 10th International Sculpture Conference: S/10: Sculpture Today at York University, showcasing the work and voices of such international leading artists and academics as Carl Andre, Mark di Suvero, and Rosalind Krauss.

 

1978

Parkin founds her own firm, Jeanne Parkin Arts Management Ltd., to advise private, corporate, and public collectors. Her clients include London Life Insurance Company, Household Financial, Northern Telecom, and McCarthy Tétrault LLP.

 

1980

Curates an exhibition from Polysar Ltd.’s collection—the only corporation at the time to own a black painting by Ron Martin. Other artists included Jean-Paul Riopelle, Paul-Émile Borduas, and Christopher Pratt.

 

1982

Visual Arts Ontario commissions Parkin to produce Art in Architecture: Art for the Built Environment in the Province of Ontario, a book she writes on her typewriter after researching public art across Ontario.

 

1983

During the annual summer Canadian National Exhibition, Parkin organizes Attitude, a show featuring twenty-three contemporary artists including FASTWÜRMS, General Idea, David Gilhooly, John Scott, and Joanne Tod.

 

1984

Coordinates a major public art project for the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, with commissioned works by Robert Markle (Mohawk, 1984) and Royden Rabinowitch (Éloges de Fontenelle, 1984).

 

1984

Curates Suncor Crossroads, a national touring exhibition of paintings. Artists from each location in which Suncor has offices are invited to submit paintings of their city.

 

Art Canada Institute, General Idea, One Year of AZT, 1991, with One Day of AZT, 1991. Installation view from General Idea’s Fin de siècle, The Power Plant, Toronto, 1992
General Idea, One Year of AZT, 1991, with One Day of AZT, 1991. Installation view from General Idea’s Fin de siècle, The Power Plant, Toronto, 1992; Wall: 1,825 units of vacuum-formed styrene with vinyl wall-mounted capsules, 12.7 x 31.7 x 6.3 cm (each), Collection of National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Floor: Five fiberglass units, 85 x 213.7 x 85 cm (each), Collection of General Idea, Toronto

In 1991 Parkin saw the General Idea installation One Year of AZT at The Power Plant Gallery. She described it as follows: “This is piece gains power by the repetition of these enormous individual forms. It's also a great icon of minimal sculpture. When I saw the exhibition at The Power Plant, filling both walls of the exhibition, it knocked me out.”

1993

The Power Plant hosts General Idea: Fin de Siècle, a major retrospective of the collective’s work. Parkin presents General Idea with a City of Toronto Lifetime Achievement Award.

 

1996

Joins the board of The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, where she remains a member until 2003.

 

1998

Parkin begins organizing fundraising trips through The Power Plant. Over the next six years she leads art tours to cities including Barcelona, Madrid, Bilbao, and Pittsburgh.

 

2002

Together with Lonti Ebers, Parkin coordinates Michael Snow’s (b. 1929) public art commission The Windows Suite at the Pantages Hotel and Condominium complex.

 

2005

The Ontario Association of Art Galleries presents the Volunteer Award to Parkin for her devoted fundraising efforts, her organization of many member trips to major international art institutions, and her work to “tirelessly promote young Canadian artists and encourage dialogue on contemporary art.” 

 

2006

The Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts presents Parkin with a lifetime Achievement Award for her exceptional contribution, over a span of sixty years, to the visual arts community in Toronto.

 

2013

Exhibitions of Parkin’s personal art collection are held at the Scrap Metal (The Travelling Eye) and Birch Libralato (Essential Works: A Personal Vision, Jeanne Parkin at 90) galleries.

 

2014-
2015

Parkin is named an ambassador and spokesperson of the Feature Art Fair in Toronto, organized by Association des galleries d’art contemporain (AGAC).

 

2015-
2017

Parkin continues working with corporate and private art collections.

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