Tragedy is cathartic, often the purpose of art. Tragedy is no more false than is the entire imaginative world of fiction. Of course a lot of ‘art’ is ‘artifice’. That’s why the words share a root. Why did Shakespeare explore the darker side of love? “Ego” would be a pretty incomplete answer. There can be as much or as little ego and as much or as little truth in a pleasant sunset as in a grim bar scene. Tragedy or the grimness to be found in a bar can be but isn’t necessarily a direct representation of what IS but rather a tool of expression. In fact, the child of alcoholics might well use the bar as a more direct representation of something grim and if you stop by some bars just before closing, they can be rather depressing places. At happy hour, likely less so. But a bar can also be used more symbolically. Why is there an entire genre of film noir that often uses drink, bars, and the flashing neon signs and rain-soaked streets that accompany them to convey fear, danger, paranoia, and even sexuality. I mean, after all, rain also causes plants to grow. Why not show that? Because they’re used symbolically and atmospherically. Humphrey Bogart knew you could have fun in a bar just as I’m sure most directors he worked with did. But the fun Bogart and his directors were having when making the films showing the darker and seedier side of bars was in creating their own worlds and inviting audiences in rather than simply living in the reality given them. Projecting grimness can simultaneously serve as an escape from it. In any case, I don’t find this collection as grim as all that. I also see music, movement, conversation, pensiveness, some happiness, etc. As well as questioning why these photos were made one could question how they’re being seen. And all valid questions, btw. Sandy raised a thoughtful question. Mine is just one attempt at an answer.