October 20, 2015
THE Magazine asked a clinical psychologist and two people who love art for their take on this 2015 oil-on-linen painting entitled "Happy Hour" by Martin Mull as seen at David Richard Gallery.


Art Forum
THE Magazine, October, 2015

They were shown only the image and were given no other information.

Fire is one of the most compelling psychological symbols. Throughout time, it has represented anger, passion, consumption, transformation, purification, sexual energy, and power. Here, we see a woman fantasize about setting fire to her home and destroying her role as a 1950s housewife. Yet, it is also possible we are seeing her dream and not her waking fantasy. Regardless, she can no longer tolerate serving her husband and maintaining their home. Forensic sychologists would classify her as a “Revenge-Motivated Arsonist” (opposed to a “Profit-Motivated Arsonist”). Also, an important detail is that the fire is spreading into the surrounding neighborhood. Such a fact suggests that her destructive wishes may be far greater in scale. For instance, she may want to obliterate the entire 1950s home life structure. Freud theorized that people are driven by sex and aggression. We certainly see these urges here. Indeed, this woman is serving up revenge!
—Davis K. Brimberg, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist

This image depicts the truth behind the American Dream and how it impacted changes in America. The typical suburban family is all smiles and laughs when out with their friends, but hidden in their eyes is the fire of their home life. When in private, the apparent perfect life of family and white picket fence house preached to children is actually full of turmoil and disappointment. The man and the woman represent your authentic couple. There’s the workingman shown still wearing his gloves being waited on by the housewife with a tray of beer for his relaxation. The distance between them and the look the woman has gives me a sense of animosity between the couple. She seems angered by the constraints of having to stay home and please her husband. Her positioning higher than him shows that she looks down on his power and also that she is the unappreciated source of his success. The significance of the house on fire is the woman destroying the gap between men and women. The conceited demeanor of the perfect American man at home in this image caused the push towards woman’s equality. Even though, in the past, this lifestyle has been plagued with destruction, people still strive to have the dream. This is also shown in the couple’s apparent ignorance of the destruction happening in the picture. The American Dream includes ignoring the bad others deal with since they should have worked harder themselves to also enjoy your life of “perfection.”
—Michaela Chapman, Intern at 203 Fine Art, Taos

This image with its retro look portrays an idealized vision of middle-class American life in 1950s suburbia where, as in TV series such as Father Knows Best, Ozzie and Harriet, and Leave it to Beaver, the fathers always have the answers, a world where there is never any contention or heartbreak. This is the time of black-and white twelve-inch televisions, when everyone is happy. Where everyone is well fed and well dressed. When the populace lives in nice homes and all have the same values. It is also the era of the Cold War, the fear of atomic weapons, and of nuclear fallout. And the time of the so-called “Red Menace,” and the “Yellow Peril”— a decade when the majority of the population lives with a daily fear of annihilation. The 1950s is also the birth of the cocktail hour, that time of day when father (affable, and probably a little bumbling) comes home, kicks back and relaxes with a drink, his perfect wife by his side after a hard day at the office. This image of the perfect couple—father with his pipe, and wifey with her loving smile show them ignoring, or just plain oblivious, to the fact that their perfect little world is going up in flames. This couple who cannot see the danger, conjures up the image of Nero calmly playing the fiddle while Rome burned and his people cry out in suffering, and of the popular metaphor that ostriches bury their heads in the sand to avoid predators. This image is a warning for all of us to not ignore obvious facts, hoping that simply denying the existence of a problem will make it go away.
—Ruth Eskanas, Art Tourist, Rochester, NY

Associated Exhibitions

  • (Un)Real Featuring: Michele Bubacco, Angela Fraleigh, David Humphrey, Martin Mull and Claire Sherman
    Curated by Mary Dinaburg and Howard Rutkowski
    July 28, 2015 - September 26, 2015

Associated News

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January 17, 2017
Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts
J. Willard Marriott Library
The University of Utah, 01/17/2017

The University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library will host the art exhibition Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts, Jan. 20-March 3.

Artnauts, an art collective formed 20 years ago by George Rivera, professor of art and art history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, consists of 300 global artists who serve as goodwill ambassadors, acknowledging and supporting victims of oppression worldwide. Their creativity has generated over 230 exhibitions across five continents. Five faculty members from the U’s Department of Art and Art History are members of the collective, Sandy Brunvand, Beth Krensky, V. Kim Martinez, Brian Snapp and Xi Zhang.

Globalocation derives from “Globalocational Art” — a concept used by the Artnauts to refer to their exhibitions in international venues. It is the mission of the Artnauts to take art to places of contention, and this anniversary exhibition is a sample of places where they have been and themes they have addressed.

“The Artnauts could not exist without the commitment of the artists in the collective to a common vision of the transformative power of art,” said Rivera. “The Artnauts make their contribution with art that hopefully generates a dialogue with an international community on subjects that are sometimes difficult to raise.”

Krensky, associate department chair of the Art and Art History Department, had the opportunity to travel with Rivera in Chile as part of an Artnauts project, working with mothers who were searching for their children who had mysteriously disappeared during a time of political unrest.

“When I travelled to Chile in 1998, George and I spent an afternoon with the Mothers of the Disappeared, and the meeting changed my life,” said Krensky. “It was from that moment on that I placed a picture of them on my desk to look at every day. I was so moved by what they each had lost — a son, a brother, a father — and yet what remained for them was a deep, deep well of love. They were fierce warriors and stood up to the government to demand the whereabouts and information of the people who had disappeared, but they lived within profound love.”

The 20th anniversary exhibition at the Marriott Library is a retrospective of the traveling works the Artnauts have toured around the globe. The exhibition will be located on level three of the library. The opening reception is open to the public and will be held on Friday, Jan 20, 4-6 p.m. Rivera will speak at 4 p.m.

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