oil on board, 36" x 39"
Bernard Harmon was born in Philadelphia Pa in 1935 very little is known about his early family life and childhood. Harmon was primarily a portrait painter and a well loved teacher in the Philadelphia area. A graduate of the Philadelphia Museum School and Temple's Tyler School of Art, Harmon traveled extensively in Europe and South America. Beloved by many, Harmon taught in the Philadelphia School District for 32 of his 54 years of life. Beginning his career as an art teacher at West Philadelphia High School, in the early 1960s he became one of the district's artists in residence , traveling from school to school to demonstrate for students how an artist works. Returning to the classroom, Harmon joined the art department at Central High School where he taught for 14 years and became an innovator in art curriculum, developing a program offering advanced placement art classes to gifted students. In his final years Harmon became a supervisor, mentoring teachers and overseeing programs in the Philadelphia school systems District #1. During his short life Harmon taught college preparatory art classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, summer classes at the University of the Arts, and a Saturday program for gifted children at Drexel University .Among Harmon's portraits were commissioned by Philadelphia Jazz organist Jimmy Smith and Mayor Richardson Dilworth . Bernard Harmon was active in promoting African American Artist throughout his life time. He organized many early shows such as the "Afro American Artists 1800 - 1969" at the Museum of the Philadelphia Civic Center in 1969. He was considered a Renaissance man by friends and colleagues for his interests not only in art but music and theater as well. He was familiar and friends with many other African American artists such as Doc Thrash, Selma Burke ,Paul Keene Jr. , Allen Freelon and Charles Searles. Harmon's work reflects his love of his students and friends. His work has a loose expressionist style that can be related to the work of Alice Kneel. An exhibition in 2016 at Gratz Gallery & Conservation Studio featured one of the largest offerings of Bernard Harmon's work in recent years. The exhibition featured forty pieces by Harmon; a culmination of forty years of collecting the artist’s finest works. African American Artist, Educator, Expressionist Painter was an exhibition of works that have been hidden away and never presented before.