Feature Story                                                                                          Saturday, February 14, 2015


Chilliwack's Picasso

"Art in Harms Way" show coming to the Cultural Center Gallery Feb 19

By Mary Chalmers Main, CVAA


A Robert Harms piece entitled "The Birth of Frances" is a 36" x 60" oil which he painted in 1990. It will be for sale during the show.


veryone is invited to take advantage of this unique opportunity to view paintings in oil and watercolour and accompanying written expressions, by well-known, popular, local artist and entrepreneur Robert V. Harms.


There will be 75 original paintings on display, some of which will be for sale. In addition, share in the launching of Bob’s new book of his life and his paintings, "Works of Consequence".


Bob was born in Sept 1940 in Swift Current Saskatchewan. He moved to Chilliwack and attended Chilliwack Senior Secondary School, graduating 1958, 1959 & finally 1960, with a major in Art. He went on to UBC, and earned a B. A. in English and Psychology.


During this period he took some Pre-Architectural and Art Design courses and in 1969 he completed his Master’s Degree in School Administration, graduating at the top of his class!

"Not bad for a dyslexic who was considered to be retarded in the first grade," said one of his peers.


With all that wonderful education, he went back to his Alma Mater as a teacher at Chilliwack Senior High School. It was a hesitant start but after two years he was voted the most popular teacher. His years as an art teacher were very productive. He ran his class like an open studio, frequently working alongside his students. There are many Chilliwack residents in their 30s & 40s who remember “Mr. Harms” as being a friendly, strict but fair teacher and Administrator. Many thank him for steering them towards a career in art and design.


The desire to be a true Renaissance man led him to get involved in professional wrestling. He was known in the ring as the “Magnificent Mennonite – Canada’s Handsomest Athlete: with a body that men feared and women desired.” His parents always told him that Mennonites were pacifists True to his upbringing, “he would pass a fist wherever it was needed to defeat his opponents.”


In his 40th year he realized that he had three bad habits smoking cigars, drinking coffee and teaching school. He decided to give them all up to develop property. His first attempt was to develop a motel in which every room would display two original paintings. The motel was never built but he did create some 60 watercolours, which were eventually displayed along with several mosaics and a thousand pound carving of a Unicorn, at a project that was completed, his nightclub “The Blue Unicorn”. The Cabaret business allowed him to leave teaching, and eventually also the Cabaret business. His investments have allowed him to become the patron of his favorite painter of contemporary oils - himself.


He and his wife of many years, currently live on a genteel estate on the Hope River. He built the house on riverfront acreage to showcase his artwork and sense of design. It also contains an art gallery, which is home to the Harms permanent collection. Bob likes to think of it as “The Harmitage”.


His paintings have also been exhibited in solo and group shows in Canada and the United States, Many have been displayed in private Collections all over the world.


The main reception is Saturday, February 21 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Chilliwack Gallery in the Chilliwack Cultural Centre at 9201 Corbould St. and runs from February 19 – March 28.


For more information, visit the Chilliwack Visual Artists Association.


See more samples of his work below.


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