"The Cold War is very often believed to be kind of a good war because it was never fought," explains Rocky Flats Cold War Museum executive director Conny Bogaard. "But the price that we paid for that time of building nuclear weapons on a mass scale is all the anxieties and the fear that is very much still in the back of people's minds."
Nebraska artist Doug Waterfield examines that state of post-World War II dread through oil paintings in This Is Not a Test: The Atomic Art of Doug Waterfield, which depicts happy scenes of families and bright cityscapes, all with mushroom clouds looming on the horizon. In the same vein as films such as Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove, Waterfield delves into the psyche of the Cold War using dark humor and pop-culture iconography, including a special piece about Colorado's own unsettling former nuclear-weapons production plant, Rocky Flats.
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"In all these paintings, you see a tension between an outward happiness and peace, but in the background you see that constant threat of a nuclear war," says Bogaard. "I hope that this exhibit will raise a lot of questions and trigger some interesting conversations."
This Is Not a Test opens tonight with a wine-and-cheese reception from 6 to 9 p.m. that will also serve as a fundraiser for the museum, 5612 Yukon Street in Arvada. Tickets, $20, are available by e-mailing email@example.com in advance or at the door. The exhibit will be open Wednesdays through Saturdays, from noon to 5 p.m., until May 31. For more information, visit rockyflatsmuseum.org.
Fri., April 19, 6-9 p.m.; Wednesdays-Saturdays, 12-5 p.m. Starts: April 19. Continues through May 31, 2013