George Laurence Nelson was a Jewish American artist. Today he is affectionately referred to as an American Folk artist. This painting is a wonderful glimpse of American culture in an Irish bar in New York. It is one of the most emotive works Nelson painted.
Times look industrious but hard. A neatly dressed couple are stood talking to the bartender with everyone else looking on and listening. Likely there is a story being told? The atmosphere is relaxed but palpable: smoke drifts; half seen but distorted faces fill the background amidst the smoke filled bar. To the foreground, the mood is more sober but the characters are exaggerated and somewhat typecast. There is a touch of Thomas Hart Benton about this artwork and it strikes visually as an American classic. It enjoys a naturalistic composition in keeping with Nelson’s reputation as a folk artist and offers an interesting narrative. The mood and atmosphere are mesmerizing.