Home » ARTSY FARTSY » JEAN SHEPHERD Kid Stories–APRIL FOOLED part 1 & (76) ARTSY Art or Craft?

JEAN SHEPHERD Kid Stories–APRIL FOOLED part 1 & (76) ARTSY Art or Craft?


I was a kid in Miss Harris’ sixth grade class.  I was sitting in the back of the room minding my own business, and there was this girl who everybody in class was madly in love with.  Every class has this type of girl, and she was untouchable.  Absolutely.  Her name was Patty Remaley.

She was blonde, a real cheer-leader-type.  She was a little precocious, let us say, for sixth grade.  Her glands were working.  Everything was working.  The only way the glands of the rest of us were working was in making pimples.

Patty would sit there and she would sort of float through the world that we lived in.   Untouched by it.  She was always going out with elderly men—guys from eighth grade.  Schwartz was obsessed by her but the trouble was that Schwartz was four-feet ten and Patty was five-feet six.  She never, absolutely never, had anything to do with anybody in our class.  The only guy who ever came close to actually getting her to say hello was Jack Robinson, who was about six-feet three.  He weighed about seventy pounds and most of his six-feet three was kind of pimply.  He actually got her going for a little bit for a little while, but she drifted on and became part of that great, glamorous world of kids who were in eighth grade—all top-flight kids.

She was always on top of everything.  Guys have the impression, secretly, that most women were born knowing about everything—I mean the real stuff, so Patty would look at the rest of us with those mysterious eyes and Schwartz would break out in a sweat.

I lived at the end of the street that was about a block-and-a-half from school, and we guys would go past Patty’s house all the time, and every time we did there’d be this little excitement—“Is Patty coming out?”  “Is Patty watching me hit this ball?”  “Is Patty watching me?”  She never was.  She didn’t know we were alive.  And, of course, like everybody else in class, I was bewitched by Patty Remaley.

In  my opinion, this is one of the most significant kid stories Shep ever told.

At least in part because he re-used it as his symbolic parting shot, April 1, 1977,

when he ended his WOR program career.

(His comment at the end of the story tells it all.)





artsyfratsy 10010


Sometimes I wonder if, as I’ve been told, “Gene, you’re a snob!” Maybe I do have too strict an attitude as to what “art” is, and what is merely “craft.” I admire fine craft, but it doesn’t excite me. There are innumerable works of craft that are elegant, finely designed and made, but do they rise to my definition of art, which for me, must express at least a somewhat new–yet universal–view/understanding/interpretation/insight regarding our world that can be understood/appreciated by the intelligent/perceptive person.

But what of artists trapped, or at minimum, confined/limited, in need-to-make-a-living jobs, or even in lesser creative mediums that seem too confining for their sensibilities?

I’ve encountered creative works that make me stop and reconsider what the hell I’m talking about. A new vista dawned when my wife brought home a “place mat” that visually stunned me, and the other day an illustrated article in the New York Times about a studio artist for Disney and Warner Bros. startled me by the artistry of his work. He’d just died at age 106. I’d never heard of him. The article was in the Arts section of the Times, though I’m well aware that the newspaper wedges crafts into that part of their publication—the list of categories can’t be infinitely extended and must sometimes be accommodating. But this creator of much of the 1942 movie Bambi scenic effects argues against such quibbles. It looks like “art” to me.


Illustrator, Kite Designer,

Hollywood Studio Artist, and Artist

My understanding is that prior to Bambi, and for much subsequent work, subtle and elegant art of Wong’s kind was not the way animated movies got made—flat areas of color were and are the norm. For me, what this Chinese American artist produced went beyond any dabbler’s borrowing of artistic techniques.

My understanding gets fuzzy here. As a tiny child, I had to be taken out of a showing of Bambi when I cried at the scary devastation of the forest fire—now I will, at a new viewing, simply glory in the crescendos of background color and effects. So I say no more, but just show:







Cloth Worker and Artist

Maurizia Hulse, of New Jersey, sells her art in craft and gift shoppes. Be aware that I base my entire enthusiasm on only one major item and two lesser—first, a place mat-like cloth, 12” X 21”—second, for its 6.5” diameter and shape, what might be a large coaster, and third, a good-size Christmas stocking without any bright red, green, or white. She doesn’t use strikingly contrasty primary and secondary colors (now pardon the mixed metaphor), she weaves gentle chamber music combinations of subtle sonatas of unexpected contrasts and rhymes into elegantly muted chords. (More suited to a clavichord than anything approaching a piano. And the tones reproduced here in electronic bits are much less than the elegant subtlety of the original dusky hues.) The results elicit from me sighs of esthetic-fulfillment, especially in her place mat cloth with an autumn theme.

Recognizing a gigantic contrast between Van Gogh’s and Hulse’s ways of seeing reality, I can serenely revel in the diminuendo, the gentle and miniscule yet expansive world view she sews into small pieces of cloth.




For many years, from the perspective of my good fortune in life and career, I’ve believed that one of the problems of our modern, technological age is that, with the large number of people capable of higher thoughts and actions, combined with their education and view of possible professions out there in the world, there are not enough openings for such lives and jobs, and not enough audience for the products of those who could produce them if given the opportunity. No wonder so many are frustrated in their lives. What can anyone do about it? Spreading the word is such an inadequate response!




1 Comment

  1. Tom says:

    For me it was Gina Marchese. Silent, exotic, aloof, all-knowing, and perpetually condemning the rabble around her with the subtlest of facial gestures. She reached Peak Majesty in the sixth grade, only to fall from the heavens when we graduated our tiny neighborhood grammar school and were disgorged into Darwinian Hell of a regional junior high.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: