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Perhaps the best way to appreciate the art work of Harvey Bernard is to get a better understanding of his life. Harvey Bernard is a native of the Chosen Valley. Born and raised outside of Chatfield, he has lived in the area his whole life. He grew up the son of farmers and attended a one room school house, the Bernard School, with his brothers and cousins and other family members. You see, in those days the schools were located in such a way that no child had to walk more than two miles to school. So much for the old "five miles in chest deep snow, up hill both ways" story.
The Bernard school was located on the Bernard family farm and when a young teacher came, she would quite often board at one of the Bernard family’s homes.
Attending school in a one room schoolhouse was both a trial and a joy. Some winters mornings were so cold that it was difficult for the children to focus their attention on the teacher. Also those long trips out behind the school could be quite unpleasant; in the winter you froze and in the fall it was the flies. But there was joy too, like bringing your dinner (lunch) in a bucket and warming it all morning on the big iron furnace. By noon the food was hot and smelled delicious.
Harvey is a wealth of information regarding the formative years of the Chosen Valley. The school house he attended has been restored and moved to its present location west of Chatfield on Highway 30 and serves as the home of the Country Art Gallery. It contains the original desks for both the students and teachers. The old stove still stands in the corner keeping watch over the treasures. There is also a scrap book of pictures, report cards, and handwritten memories from graduates of the old country school.
It was at that school that Harvey Bernard first learned of his talent for drawing. The busy life of a farm boy during the depression didn’t allow much time for artwork. But in 1946, Harvey’s life took a turn and he soon found that he had nothing but time on his hands.
WWII was over and the U.S. was in one of it’s prosperous periods. New homes were being built, which required laborers and those laborers had to eat, so farming was good. Harvey was happy to help out on his fathers farm. In the fall of that year, polio struck young Harvey and he would spend the next year and a half in the Polio Ward at Mayo Cli .....
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