This untitled painting by Hughie Lee-Smith is an excellent example of the artist's career-defining body of work from Detroit in the 1950s. Two years earlier, Lee-Smith was awarded by the Detroit Institute of Arts its prestigious Founders Prize, a national painting award, for his painting The Piper, now in their permanent collection.
Painting with confidence and a command of the medium, Lee-Smith displays his mature style of the mid- to late 1950s that had evolved from his social realism of the earlier decade. He explores the space between a young African-American man in the foreground and the two figures fishing at a lake's edge. As in many other paintings of the period, Lee-Smith uses an enigmatic young male as a stand-in for himself--here he is playing "cat's cradle" while turning away from the scene. Lee-Smih constructs the setting with many familiar landscape elements that he will use in the years and decades to come. These include the rock strewn foreground space, a concrete pier, a distant shore line at the horizon and a beautiful sky of cumulus clouds.