You’ve heard the news by now; renowned and reviled Painter of Light (trademark) Thomas Kinkade has died.
Hundreds of articles are being written about him even as I write mine, and thousands of online readers are posting comments either adoring or scathing and snarky. As a member of the art community, and a blogger as well, I get to add my 2 cents and small beam of light to the conversation. (And for using the word ‘light’ in connection with his name, I will probably get sued and owe money to his estate.)
It seems folks either love him or hate his work. I was never a fan. My friend has a small collection. His images make her feel good. They don’t trip my trigger. So what’s the big deal?
I suppose we want our artists to fit our pre-conceived mold; artist as thoughtful, slightly daft, non-business oriented, emotional, shy, as set-apart from the 9 to 5 world as the moon is from the sun.
It appears that Kinkade was none of those things. He was a calculating business man and a marketing whiz. He provided the masses with charming cottages and flower-lined paths despite the best efforts of the current art movement to shock and bewilder with preserved sharks and giant ballooncreatures.
He was the art world’s version of Wal-Mart.
Don’t we all love to bash Wal-Mart? They’re everywhere; inexpensive, low brow, white-bread. It is said they don’t pay their employees what they deserve. They buy goods from companies outside our borders. Their growth has stifled small business owners and wiped out individual shops across the country.
When you need a gallon of paint, a pair of white socks, a box of cereal and a tire iron, it’s just so much easier to sneak into Wal-Mart and grab it all in one fell swoop. We can hate ourselves for it tomorrow.
Wal-mart fills a void that Harrod’s doesn’t – or won't. (Can you imagine Wal-Mart having a visitor's guide?) Kinkade filled the void left by Damien Hirst and others of his ilk. Kinkade understood that and played the game like a master.
At a certain level, it’s all business. Sorry to burst that bubble.
Flick the lights once or twice. Shoppers, the store will be closing in 10 minutes.
Condolences to the Kinkade family.