Harvey Bernard work will benefit Center for the Arts

By Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Thanks to Harvey Bernard, history isn't so sketchy.

In fact, it's drawn out, right there in black and white.

And someday, it'll be the art of the center.

"We'll eventually be selling prints of Harvey's sketches as a fundraiser for the Chatfield Center for the Arts," stated Chatfield Mayor Don Hainlen as he and Center steering committee member F. Mike Tuohy accepted a donation of the late Chatfield artist's sesquicentennial sketch print from Bernard's daughters, Darla Bernard and Donna Ford, last Monday afternoon, May 23.

The print Ford and Bernard presented to the city depicts historic landmarks that served citizens of the town since its founding in 1853, five years before Minnesota was declared a state, including Cusson's Mill, the Morrill-O'Ferrall House, Chatfield High School, The Capitol Theatre, the Schermerhorn barn, the train depot, the cooperative creamery, and many more structures, overseen by a drawing of Judge Chatfield, the man for whom the city was named.

A description Bernard wrote about his print in 2003 stated, "This is a composite of buildings that served the town and surrounding area in pursuit of a livelihood. The tilling of the land touched nearly everyone directly or indirectly. If they did not work the land, they worked because of it, handling produce or supplies for the communities' needs.

"Some of the buildings were used for processing the produce of the fields, flocks and herds of the farms. Some buildings were for education, entertainment, recreation and social needs.

"Main Street was the hub of the community, where daily trading took place and deals were made. Saturday night on Main Street was a beehive of activity with every type worker trading the pollen of gossip for the honey of local news. All ages strolled the sidewalks, looking to renew old friendships and make new ones.

"In midweek, as I have shown, Main Street is quiet and under the watchful eyes of the merchants, plus Fred DeWitt on his drugstore corner.

"The background of the print is made up of family names to give a textured effect around the sketches and to give a sample of the folks who walked the streets of Chatfield and its country roads. It is not a complete list of local families, only names I gathered from the historical reprints in the Chatfield News and placed as space allowed on the print."

The Bernard family has resided in the Chatfield area since the 1860s, according to a drawing history accompanying Harvey's description of his sesquicentennial print.

Bernard originally wanted to become a farmer, but polio changed his dreams and he became an artist instead, chronicling Chatfield's people and their homes and businesses until his passing Jan. 25, 2009.

The history related that he created the print "to honor the history of Chatfield during the sesquicentennial year with a Chatfield print containing many detailed, historically accurate drawings," and that it was his contribution to the sesquicentennial celebration even though another artist had been selected as the official Chatfield sesquicentennial commemorator.

He researched buildings, businesses and homes that were significant in the community and drew "over 30 original detailed pen and ink drawings of historic Chatfield, including the Chatfield railroad depot, a detailed drawing of Main Street in Chatfield from the 1930s, several local school buildings and Judge Chatfield."

The drawing took him one year and "several hundred hours of work to research and complete," as he added more than 250 family names between the drawings of landmarks, a tribute to memories.

Ford and her sister noted that their father was a diverse artist, using pen and ink, oils, watercolors and outlines to foster familiar images of their fair hometown - the sesquicentennial quilt that hangs on the wall in the city council chambers was of Bernard's imagination and creation, they related.

"Dad did the drawing, and then he got the quilting ladies of the town together and asked them to make the quilt from his artwork."

Harvey's legacy will continue to benefit Chatfield, as Tuohy and Hainlen declared the city's intention of borrowing more of Bernard's varied artwork from his family to host a display to promote the print fundraiser for the art center.

For those citizens who missed his unique chronicle of Chatfield when it was sold the first time, more information will be available in the coming months.

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