For our Labor Day post we asked Devi Noor of American Art to recommend a work-themed picture from the upcoming exhibition American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life, 1765–1915. Like all the paintings that will be in the show, the one Devi suggested (The Young Mechanic, an 1848 oil by Allen Smith Jr.) creates a narrative. I didn’t quite get it at first glance, so I consulted the online description—it seems that the kid on the left (the “working-class boy”) is sitting at the counter of his father’s woodworking shop, whittling a toy-boat mast commissioned by the kid in the straw hat (“the better-dressed boy”). With that little bit of setup, the picture acquires class and social implications that you could study for some time. And today would be a good day to do it, not just because it’s Labor Day but also because LACMA admission is free all day; the painting can be seen on the third level of the Art of the Americas Building.