Henrik Mayer was born in Nashua, New Hampshire and took his art training at the Manchester Institute of Arts and the Yale School of Fine Art. He studied in Europe as a Winchester Fellow before accepting a teaching position in New York City where he also served as designer and decorator of the New York Cosmopolitan Club. In 1934, Mayer moved to Indianapolis where he became assistant director under Donald Mattison at the Herron Art School. During this period, Mayer exhibited his paintings at the Hoosier Salon, Herron Art Institute, Art Institute of Chicago, Corcoran Gallery Biennial, and the National Academy of Design where he won a prize. He also accepted mural commissions at such places as the post office building in Lafayette, Indiana. In 1946, Mayer moved to Essex, Connecticut, where he became director of the Hartford Art School of the Wadsworth Athenaeum. He later became dean of the Art School of the University of Harford in Connecticut and also served as director of the Wadsworth Athenaeum.
The depression-era mural projects of the Works Progress Administration probably influenced Mayer’s choice of grand-scale designs, and although he may never have intended Halloween Carnival to become a mural, it looks as if it could be a section of an enormous panorama of Halloween revelers. According to the artist’s wife, Mayer’s painting was inspired by Halloween celebrations that were once held on Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis.
Judith Newton and Carol Weiss. A Grand Tradition: The Art and Artists of the Hoosier Salon, 1925-1990, Indianapolis: Hoosier Salon Patrons Association, Inc., 1993. ISBN-13: 978-0963836007