God Gave Us Taxicabs for a Reason

Not to mention cell phones with which sinners can call a friend for a ride. Really, no one has a right to endanger innocent people no matter how dark their mood. Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light, was picked up on a D.U.I.

While public intoxication and arrest would tend to enhance the reputation of your average tortured artist, it will do some damage to the Kinkade brand. His product is serenity and assured salvation.

Why am I snarking at this guy when he’s down? When he’s falling apart financially? It’s not personal, it’s not even his frightening art. I’m snarking because of people like this…

You should consider owning at least ONE EPIC (largest size) Kinkade in your home. (I have 11 EPICS up on the walls in my home in my collection!) The sheer breathtaking beauty of the EPIC is absolutely mesmerizing! The EPIC size shows the beauty of the Kinkade more than any smaller version and will be the focal point of your home.

Only selected Kinkades are made in Epic size (actually only a small fraction of Thomas Kinkade’s art are selected). Many Kinkades are not made beyond the 24 x 36 size or some even beyond 20 x 24. I am offering only the top best sellers in the EPIC size.

The Kinkade EPIC size will appreciate in value like all fine art and will become a family heirloom and a wise investment.

It’s because of cynical marketing schemes like this…

It just takes a few dabs of paint, and presto, each canvas – worth $1,000 to $50,000 – is framed. The operation is huge. More than 400 employees work in the vast garret, where forklifts, power tools and assembly lines push the artist’s vision out the door to more than 350 Kinkade galleries in the United States and overseas. More than 600 others are being planned.

“Tom paints every single painting that we produce,” says [C.E.O., Craig] Fleming. “It’s still an original Kinkade as far as we’re concerned.”

…Kinkade has struck a serious nerve and a vein of pure gold in America’s heartland. And he is relentless in exploiting himself, his family and of course, God.

“My wife and I do pray over these paintings. Thank you,” says Kinkade. “And we do believe that God can speak through beauty.”

Well, his colors are pretty, no one can deny that. But I saw the 60 Minutes interview quoted above, and what got to me was the innocent-looking fans standing in line to pay huge bucks for a mass-produced printed canvass magically transformed by Kinkade, who was posing and dabbing tiny blobs of paint onto each one. Whether, as he claims, this makes each copy ‘original’ is a question for philosophers. Here’s critic Christina Waters…

“He really is an accomplished painter,” [business partner, Ken] Raasch asserts. “He can out-Monet Monet, but he’s chosen to make paintings that people can relate to.” Raasch credits the ubiquitous Painter of Light™ trademark with producing crucial brand-name recognition and launching Kinkade into art publishing big time.

“The ‘light’ concept allowed us to develop consistency,” Raasch explains. “There’s always light in his work–yet that idea is broad enough that he would be free to do everything.”

The concept is working. Four years ago Kinkade stopped selling his originals, citing as the primary reason the desire to keep his collection intact for posterity. Focusing entirely on sales
of state-of-the-art lithographic copies (available in multitiered editions priced from $300 to $15,000) allows MAGI to offer an endless stream of product.

Anyone who pays that much for a print with a few dabs on it better want it real bad. If they bought it as an investment they’re out of luck. The Kinkade brand depends highly on a myth of personality that just lost a hunk of social capital and a pyramid kind of system where the value depends on creating demand through aggressive marketing. It may be that hard times as much as hubris is dimming the Kinkade light. People just don’t have a few thousand bucks lying around any more.

And just a word about the real starving artists– I mean the people selling true original work here in the Creative Capitol. There used to be a Kinkade store in the Providence Place Mall, sucking money away from real local artists whose work might actually be worth something in time. Arrrgh…

Anyway, there is a way out for Kinkade. Just as Picasso had his Blue Period and Plaid Period and whatever, (Picasso being almost as cynical as Andy Warhol in marketing), Kinkade might have his Light Period, full of deep despair under a smiling surface. This is a review from KNS Mare, who sees something ominous in the glowing windows and smoking chimneys of the depopulated Kinkade-world…

For Kinkade, the ultimate context for modern evil is the seemingly static, wholly-controlled, wholly-contrived resort environment that attempts to evoke a pre-lapsarian perfection yet with all the amenities: a bed and breakfast Eden where NO OTHER PEOPLE can interfere with one’s vacation. Kinkade traps us within our own vanity and illusions, and then begins burning down the quaint little houses. The Puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards would have sinners clenched fast in the hands of an angry god. Kinkade would have them locked inside thatched roof stone cottages, begging pyromaniac realtors and resort managers for mercy that never comes.

Maybe this points to a way out for Kinkade. He sold himself as much as he sold paintings. The paintings are what they’re worth, and will eventually be judged as good or bad art on their own merit. Maybe he should consider using his technical skills to carve out a new path. Like ironic renderings of acres of unsold mini-mansions. Thomas Kinkade–Painter of Blight.

If Kinkade is a painter he will paint, and maybe when he’s free from the need to move product, he’ll surprise us. He does have a nice way with color.

EVERYONE’S A CRITIC: Harsh words at Salon.com. Kerry Lauerman quotes a cheated franchise owner as saying Kinkade used a ‘Christian hook’ to sell his paintings.

THE LIFE KINKADE: Here’s a link to Salon’s article about a suburban housing development that bears the Kinkade brand. Sadly, the little stone cottages with the glowing windows were too expensive to build, and the houses are nothing out of the ordinary, but maybe you get a break on sofa art. This kind of over-reach is one reason people go bankrupt.

FROM BACK HOME: The OC Register Arts Blog has local take and comments. I like the one that says Kinkade has helpers putting the little dabs of paint on the prints so that each one is ‘original’.

9 thoughts on “God Gave Us Taxicabs for a Reason

  1. I think Kinkade’s art is garbage,but you practically froth at the mouth that he has a store in Providence.It’s a free country and people can buy what they like.It’s kind of arrogant to tell people what they have to like.If the local “starving artists”can’t sell stuff maybe it’s because people don’t want it.
    Some Pennsylvania artists around New Hope did some work in the first half of the 20th century that bears a cursory resemblance to Kinkade’s stuff,but is worlds away with no forced coziness.Actually their works are often disquieting and somber.There are different ways of looking at lamplit windows on cold,dark nights.
    I see that any Christian connection seems to set your teeth on edge.

  2. Well, I’m not the art police. People can put anything they like on their own walls, and I’ve seen some things. Velvet Elvis is the least of it.
    What bothers me about Kinkade, and other similar product producers, is that they blur the line between original and reproduction. Then they try to sell reproductions at inflated prices to people who believe they will increase in value the same way original works do. If you buy something because you love looking at it, you’ll get your money’s worth, even if it declines in resale value, as I think Kinkade’s prints will.
    Also, Kinkade uses his religion as a selling point. I think Jesus disapproved of that kind of thing. I asked Him about it and He said it sets His teeth on edge.

  3. Nice to know you have a direct line and all.I don’t know nor care what Jesus would approve of.You just seem uptight about Christian stuff.
    Buying any art because it will “increase in value”is pretty crass and hopefully you’ll have wasted your money.
    You should buy art because you like loking at it.

  4. Observer, I totally agree with you on that. Art speculation is very risky and there’s nothing wrong with buying a reproduction if you love the image and want to look at it. I really think Thomas Kinkade inflated the potential value of his prints, and they just plain cost too much.
    As far as a direct line– I read a lot of Bible when I was young and it keeps coming back to me.

  5. observer, are you deliberately not seeing the point she’s trying to make?

    It’s not the quality of the art, or the What Would Jesus Do that’s the problem; rather, it’s the cynical way that this is marketed, owning a big Kinkade somehow put you right with The Lord.

    I mean how low is that? And then to foist yourself as some sort of holier-than-thou when, in fact, you are a mortal sinner, like the rest of us. Ever read about the Pharisee and the Publican? I have, so I get the point.

    And to put this stuff across as “an original” when, at most, the “artist” puts a few dabs of paint on a manufactured canvas is simply fraud in my book. Maybe it meets the technical definition of “original,” but talk about violating the spirit of the law while keeping to the letter….

    That, IMHO, is what ninjanurse objects to.

  6. A few years ago I was visiting an art gallery in Provincetown, with my sister who is a real artist who sells her prints as prints and whose original works are unmistakeably unique.
    There were very dramatic huge canvasses in a technique called, ‘giclee’ (an accent on the last ‘e’).
    I said, ‘what the heck is giclee’?
    She explained that it is a technique for putting a canvas under a laser printer.
    This is fine, as long as you know you are buying a well-done reproduction, unlikely to ever gain value. If you enjoy it on the wall, you have got your money’s worth.

  7. I think a lot of people don’t get it that a reproduction and a print are quite different,an original print anyway.Of course you can have a reproduction of a print too.
    For a long time I had a framed reproduction of Hopper’s “Early Sunday Morning”on the wall-it wasn’t like I could ever own the original but I liked looking at it.
    The Pharisee and the Publican?Never heard of it-must be from the Bible,which I’ve never read(except Revelation).

  8. As an artist myself, I don’t care if people buy Kinkade instead of my work, those who do would never like my work anyway. And his marketing is deceptive, but no more than many manufacturers. Let the buyer beware.
    What I don’t like is hypocrisy. Jackson Pollack was also a roaring drunk and pissed in a fireplace, but he didn’t portray himself as a family values christian.
    So if I have a little laugh when I see his mugshot, sue me.
    If you’ve been burned by his unethical business practices, sue him.

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