The Story of Smirk
‘Smirk’ was painted in 1975 by former bartender Saul Paul Stewart in the then-owners’ effort to dress the Green Parrot up. The image Stewart used to create Smirk comes from an article in the April 1974 issue of National Geographic entitled “The England of Charles Dickens”, which featured a photo of a “fair-skinned and flaxen-haired” student from the Beavers Holt School in London.
In the 1970s, the only other things resembling art on the Parrot’s walls were a rather grisly knock-off of the famous Karsh Hemingway portrait, also by Stewart, and an equally disturbing snow shovel with a few bullet holes in it.
Using the photo of the female student (yes, Smirk was once a girl), Stewart created an enigmatic, sphinx-like countenance that has endured for decades on the plywood shutter on the Southard Street facade of The Green Parrot.
Over the years, many a diehard patron and wandering tourist has asked about Smirk’s origin. (Jamie Lee Curtis even tried to buy Smirk once). And over the years, Smirk’s back story has evolved into a kind of Green Parrot lore.
Instead of a female student captured for the National Geographic article because she resembled the “pale transparent face” of Charles Dickens’ character Amy Dorrit, Smirk became a street urchin of yore who’d been in a pie-eating contest. Even the stubble on Smirk’s jaw was transformed into former remnants from blueberry pie in said pie-eating contest.
Facing the barroom when the Parrot is open and facing the street when the bar is closed, Smirk has, as we say, seen it all. He will no doubt see much, much more.