Home » ARTSY FARTSY » JEAN SHEPHERD Kid Stories–the end of Pearl & (150) ARTSY Degas Pastel

JEAN SHEPHERD Kid Stories–the end of Pearl & (150) ARTSY Degas Pastel


From that night on, when Pearl and I stood next to each other in biology class, it was an entirely different thing.  She always said, “Please,” now.  She didn’t have the little spangles, the tassels on her “Yes.”  She’d say, “Would you pass the green dye, please.”  Her nostrils would flair a bit.  “Pass the dye, please.”  I’d say “Yes,” and I’d give her the dye.  She’d say, “Excuse me.  Do you have yesterday’s assignment in your notebook?”  That cool, beautiful, rich smile.  I’d say, “Yeah.  Yeah, yeah.”

From that time on I had trouble eating red cabbage, I could no longer mix it with the mashed potatoes, and ketchup was dead.  My father’s hair was a kind of dirty gray and I wanted to say, “Dad, why isn’t your hair white?”  My mother was always there in that big old bathrobe saying, “How about some red cabbage, gang?”  I’d say, “I’ll have another helping, please.”  And that was the day that changed my life.

That’s all Shep says about Pearl.

Her story’s over. We can understand how his date

with her changed his way of thinking about his family and the differences money

makes to status. Is it what made him a liberal in some aspects of his thinking?

We don’t quite know in what ways it changed how he differed in his life.

Next story we go from Pearl to turkeys.



Degas Pastel–Getting My Hackles Up

The recently encountered Degas picture found in a bus is not a “painting” as widely described. When I first saw it shown for a moment on TV, I said to my wife, “Oh, look, a Degas pastel.” Then I saw it reproduced in the New York Times (2/24/2018) described as a “painting,” and I thought I’d mis-interpreted it on the TV screen. After all, the Times title to the news story used the word “painting,” and the article referred to it as a “painting” nine times, but once as: “The painting, a colorful pastel.” That phrase is a self-contradiction. Googling the picture, all the first page hits (NYT, AP, Reuters, The Guardian, etc.) refer to it as a “painting.”

I opened a large photo of the piece on my computer screen and confirmed that the technique and nature of the work shows it to be, without doubt, not a painting, but a pastel. (I’m also aware that Degas did many pastel works.) Pastel is an art medium in the form of sticks consisting of pure powdered pigments and a binder–similar to chalks used on a blackboard. The picture is not a “painting” any more than a pencil drawing, etching, lithograph, wood-block print, or a tapestry, is a “painting.”  The mass media, following “painting,” blindly galloped lemming-like over the cliff of ignorance.

My large catalog of the 1988 Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Degas exhibit shows it in color with a detailed description of the work, starting with: “The Chorus. Pastel over monotype on laid paper.” Looking up “monotype” in my Art Terms book, I found that it’s a form of printing in which wet paint on glass is pressed onto paper in a technique similar to etchings and lithographs—thus, over that basic, printed, under-layer, Degas created his predominately pastel picture.

My Random House Dictionary of the English Language Second Edition, copyright 1987, defines painting as “A picture or design executed in paint.” I had to confirm this because dictionaries can be outrageously confusing and downright wrong, as was Webster’s Unabridged, 3rd Edition (1961) in its defining “hoi polli” as both the lower class and the upper class. (Sure to confuse unknowing readers for generations to come, as will Webster’s 3rd defining “uninterested” and “disinterred” as the same—would you want to come before a judge who is uninterested in judging your case, or who is disinterested while judging it?) Wrong word-usage matters—it pollutes and confuses accurate understanding of our major means of communicating.

In this close-up, note overall pastel work,

especially in the oranges and the gray hair.


will the media give you no rest?



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