Join 3,377 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Thomas Kinkade: High or Low, Yes or No?
June 17, 2012 6:46 PM   Subscribe

Painter of Light: Two Letters Worth $15mil, or more, Under Dispute (previously)

The dark underbelly of Thomas Kinkade's life and work has been exposed in the latest battle between his girlfriend, Amy Pinto-Walsh, and estranged wife Nanette, over two letters. The letters which are beautiful, and quite dark, verging on abstraction (illegibility) to the extent that they could be called drawings, grant Ms. Pinto-Walsh ownership of the Monte Sereno mansion and $10 million to start a Kinkade museum there. The letters offer quite a contrast to the rest of Thomas Kinkade's work, all of which expresses a sugar coated fantasy world devoid of any darkness. He truly is, the Painter of Light, yet darkness pervaded his life. He was deeply conflicted man, who died April 6, 2012 at age 54, from an accidental overdose.

Kinkade's work is revered by many, yet reviled by most who consider themselves cultured or part of the Artworld Establishment. His was one of the most financially successful artist in US history; his works are estimated to be in ten million homes.

There are a few in the art world willing to consider Kinkade or even take him seriously, if not all for the same reasons. He considers himself heir to Norman Rockwell and Walt Disney, while others compare him to more contemporary artists like Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, and Damian Hirst. Like Pop, Post Pop, and Post Modern artists his works extend beyond the visual by referring to ideas about business consumerism and popular culture. Kenneth Baker, art critic of the SF Chronicle, tagged his art as Naive Postmodernism.

Artist and curator Jeffery Vallance curated Kinkade's only museum show, Heaven on Earth, in 2004.
Kinkade aficionados loved the exhibit, while the art critics were overwhelmed. “Many reviewers of the show followed a similar pattern,” Vallance recalls. “Most writers pretty much admitted that they loathed Kinkade and came expecting to hate the show – like gawkers at a train wreck. But then something happened. When they came to see the actual show, the kitsch was laid on so thick that something snapped in their brains. They experienced transcendence and ended up liking the show.”

And like it or not, any painter who can compel other artists to wear black armbands in protest of his work has already called dibs on posterity.
(SLYT) Morely Safer interviewed Kinkade in 2001.

And as always caveat emptor, if you are interested in buying any of Kinkade's work. WaPo has a guide: Thomas Kinkade paintings selling swiftly: What buyers should know
posted by snaparapans (97 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
I just assumed he'd donate his fortune to the church or it would magically ascend all on its own.
posted by joelf at 6:57 PM on June 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


With Kincaid, I'd have expected some kind of system where the beneficiaries have to pay into the estate to legitimize one of the first 1000 numbered wills, but then suddenly a machine will turn on that cranks out hundreds of thousands of additional wills with his signature to new beneficiaries until everyone realizes the documents are all worthless.
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:00 PM on June 17, 2012 [30 favorites]


I'm suddenly tickled by the idea that the market might be flooded with forged Kinkade paintings.
posted by figurant at 7:02 PM on June 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


The letters which are beautiful, and quite dark, verging on abstraction (illegibility) to the extent that they could be called drawings,...

Seriously? That's the scrawling of a person who is barely in control of their own hand.
posted by NoMich at 7:02 PM on June 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Seriously? That's the scrawling of a person who is barely in control of their own hand.

Yeah, that too.
posted by snaparapans at 7:08 PM on June 17, 2012


J. M. W. Turner was the Painter of Light.
Let's not assist Kinkade's attempt to usurp that title.
posted by nixt at 7:14 PM on June 17, 2012 [36 favorites]


>tagged his art as Naive Postmodernism
He's not dissimilar from Rob Liefeld, in some respects.
posted by darth_tedious at 7:16 PM on June 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Which link shows the actual letters? I can't find them.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:18 PM on June 17, 2012


Meatbomb: first link scroll down.
posted by snaparapans at 7:20 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm suddenly tickled by the idea that the market might be flooded with forged Kinkade paintings.
posted by figurant


Kind if like a Rutles cover band?
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:20 PM on June 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


For whatever else Kinkade was in terms of art, he was a shrewd businessman, and I can't imagine that two illegible handwritten letters would satisfy him in terms of what would happen to his fortune should he die.
posted by xingcat at 7:21 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


>dissimilar from
dissimilar to
posted by darth_tedious at 7:22 PM on June 17, 2012


darth_tedious: He's not dissimilar from Rob Liefeld

Or Dale Chihuly
posted by snaparapans at 7:23 PM on June 17, 2012


Does this person actually give a damn about a Kincade museum?
posted by Brocktoon at 7:35 PM on June 17, 2012


One person I know started collecting Kinkades after the market for her previous interest - Beanie Babies - collapsed. Interestingly, she had to stop collecting Kinkades when the housing bubble collapse wiped out her income. *POP*
posted by R. Mutt at 7:36 PM on June 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Does this person actually give a damn about a Kincade museum?

I hear the directorship of the museum pays $1,000,000 a year guaranteed for 10 years...
posted by MikeMc at 7:37 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm partial to the AV Club's obituary for this deeply unpleasant, moralizing, fraudulent, and generally awful man. (See also this LA Times expose of his shady ethical practices).
posted by Frobenius Twist at 7:41 PM on June 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


Let's also never forget this fantastic Photoshop Phriday devoted to the man.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 7:45 PM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Personally, I like the youtube mashup
posted by snaparapans at 7:47 PM on June 17, 2012


Genius.
posted by XMLicious at 8:13 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thomas Kinkade is the only artist that I can think of who died of natural causes at the age of 54.
posted by ovvl at 8:22 PM on June 17, 2012


Meatbomb: "Which link shows the actual letters? I can't find them"

T and K?
posted by pwnguin at 8:25 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Drugs and Alcohol are pretty natural to many artists.. sadly so are ODs..
posted by snaparapans at 8:25 PM on June 17, 2012


"Kincade's work is revered by many, yet reviled by most who consider themselves cultured or part of the Artworld Establishment. His was one of the most financially successful artist in US history; his works are estimated to be in ten million homes."

One time I met this greeting card "poet" who wrote little ditties along the lines of, "if you love me if I love you, nothing can part our love in two" for a big greeting card company, cranked them out by the hundreds, and took her work Very Seriously. She informed me that she was the most-read poet in the history of the United States, had her work in the most homes, and was the most financially successful poet working in the U.S. All of these statements are probably true if you accept her definition of "poet." She was convinced she was only lacking in critical recognition of her genius because "The Establishment" didn't like her and only approved of incomprehensible work that made the tastemakers "seem smart" because nobody else could understand it.

That's who I always think of when I think about Thomas Kinkade and whether his work is "art."

Except that she was basically an adult version a deluded teenager writing Deep Poems That Actually Suck, who lucked into a job where she got to do what she loved to do, write little rhyming ditties, and nobody ever told her, or she lacked the capacity to understand, that nobody else really considered her work "poetry," let alone meaningful poetry. She was annoying in constantly proclaiming her perch at the top of the poetry world, but pretty harmless. Whereas Kinkade was a deeply unpleasant fraud.

I only met her a couple times, but she was obviously very unhappy with the lack of recognition for her brilliant work as a poet, and I always wonder if she would have been a happier person if someone told her "ditty writer" is actually a job, and it's a hard job to be good at, and that she was a very good ditty writer. Maybe she could have stopped worrying about whether her poetry would go down in the annals of American poetry then. Because no.

posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:26 PM on June 17, 2012 [33 favorites]


Eyebrows McGee Kinkade was a deeply unpleasant fraud.

How can you call him a fraud? He was an artist, very skilled at his craft and extraordinarily successful.

It is one thing to not like the work, and to not like what you have read and heard about him, but he certainly was not a fraud, by any definition of the term, imo.

Having never seen a original painting of his in person I can only go by what I have read about the show Jeffery Vallance curated. Vallance is a good artist and I respect what he said.
When they came to see the actual show, the kitsch was laid on so thick that something snapped in their brains. They experienced transcendence and ended up liking the show.”
I can imagine that happening, as it has happened to me more than once with seeing art in person that I had only seen copies of. So, I think twice about writing off Thomas Kinkaide.
posted by snaparapans at 8:41 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Codpiece! Codpiece!
posted by Ommcc at 8:46 PM on June 17, 2012


All of these statements are probably true if you accept her definition of "poet."

And why not accept her definition? Who has been appointed to decide what is, or is not, poetry? If she says she's a poet than she's a poet.

that nobody else really considered her work "poetry," let alone meaningful poetry.

This just kinda rubs me the wrong way. Apparently at least one person considers her work poetry and that's all you really need. Also, meaningful to who? Who are these arbiters of meaning and what right do they have to determine what is meaningful for others?
posted by MikeMc at 8:47 PM on June 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


The Treachery of Legal Documents
posted by nicebookrack at 8:48 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


J. M. W. Turner was the Painter of Light.
Ah, I always loved The Fighting Téméraire.
posted by Glinn at 8:49 PM on June 17, 2012


This thread is like that post recently about the bacon sundae at Burger King .. what we talk about when we talk about Thomas Kinkade.
posted by stbalbach at 8:51 PM on June 17, 2012


The letters which are beautiful, and quite dark, verging on abstraction (illegibility) to the extent that they could be called drawings,

Wait, what? Are they letters or drawings? How are they beautiful? Or dark?

Are you referring to something besides his letters?

(and the mods might want to fix the "Kincade" misspelling too if you end up putting in corrections)
posted by emjaybee at 8:52 PM on June 17, 2012


"And why not accept her definition? Who has been appointed to decide what is, or is not, poetry? If she says she's a poet than she's a poet. [ETC.]"

Well, that was kinda my point. she felt exactly the same way Kinkade did, that her work was art and ought to be recognized as Serious Art and that she was being inexplicably kept out of the upper eschelons of the literary world by an "establishment" bent on ignoring her.

I mean, I guess if she says she's a poet, she's a poet, and that's fine, but she SAID she was the greatest poet working in American today, on part with Frost and Longfellow and Dickenson, and then I think we get to make some judgments. I thought she was quite a good ditty-writer, but as poetry her work was appallingly bad. And let's be real -- she was writing corporate ditties that were market tested for sales and adjusted by corporate to bring in maximum profits. She wasn't writing "poetry" unless we take the most reductive meaning of "words that rhyme." And she certainly didn't own her output -- that poem was by CardCo. The whole situation was a little absurd. But really, she was a fairly happy woman being well-remunerated for writing "the most-read poetry in America," just sad that the critical recognition she craved was not forthcoming.


(In terms of "deeply unpleasant fraud" I was thinking of the alleged and well-documented fraud in the dealings with his companies/sales outlets, not that the paintings were fraudulent.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:59 PM on June 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


My wife and I were on a cruise that left dock the day after his death. Eagerly attending the art auction on board, we were horrified to discover that the bulk of Princess Cruise Line's Art program was giclees of works by Kinkade and others. More horrifying was the auctioneer starting his spiel for the Kinkade portion of the auction by informing us of Kinkade's recent passing, and saying "I'm not saying you should profit off his death by buying these works at prices that haven't yet been raised to reflect the fact that Kinkade is now dead... but you should profit off his death by buying these works at prices that haven't yet been raised to reflect the fact that Kinkade is now dead."

[Weirdly, amongst the Kinkades and Goddards, there were authentic lithographs by Picasso and Chagall, and an early strike etching of Rembrandt's The Circumcision, priced appropriately]
posted by fatbird at 9:00 PM on June 17, 2012


Throughout the hearing, Pinto-Walsh clutched a heavy silver pendant in the form of what appeared to be a dragon. After the hearing, she declined a request for an interview and wouldn't explain the symbolism of the pendant. But Pinto-Walsh, who is of Indian descent and raised in Kuwait, held the dragon in front of her throughout the hearing, as though it had special spiritual or sentimental value.

The two handwritten letters, which allegedly leave his grand home called Ivy Gate and $10 million to Pinto-Walsh, showed none of the precision of the painter's brush strokes.


Oh god, that first link wasn't written; it was darkly summoned by midnight rites involving bourbon and the waspish ghost of Truman Capote. I wish I was reading it in ink at a table, ideally with someone who'd snap a classic z formation with me at the proper intervals.
posted by melissa may at 9:03 PM on June 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Because I hate the way sites insist on using flash to present PDF documents, here is a PDF of the two handwritten letters.
posted by RichardP at 9:09 PM on June 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


"but she SAID she was the greatest poet working in American today, on part with Frost and Longfellow and Dickenson, and then I think we get to make some judgments."

I think a subtle eye roll would be appropriate there. I would consider her to be a poet as I consider Kinkade to be an artist. I doubt either of them of them would appeal to me, strike that, I know Kinkade doesn't appeal to me but I wouldn't begrudge the corporate artist or poet the title. I know more than a few talented artists that work for corporations, bills must be paid and all that. As for being "the greatest" well, unless you're Muhammed Ali it's just crass to say something like that about yourself.
posted by MikeMc at 9:13 PM on June 17, 2012


emjaybee: Wait, what? Are they letters or drawings? How are they beautiful? Or dark?

Are you referring to something besides his letters?


The letters are so expressive that they look more like drawings to me than letters. I like the way the lines sit on the page and seem to dance. They remind me of Cy Twombly paintings and energetically Philip Guston's abstract drawings.

They seem dark to me because they are so out of control, and the content. The fact that he makes treacle paintings that are very controlled make these seem really quite dark in contrast.
posted by snaparapans at 9:18 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


RichardP: Nice find! Thanks, I just added them to my collection.
posted by snaparapans at 9:21 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I'm not saying you should profit off his death by buying these works at prices that haven't yet been raised to reflect the fact that Kinkade is now dead... but you should profit off his death by buying these works at prices that haven't yet been raised to reflect the fact that Kinkade is now dead."

His soul died after the "Cadmium Yellow Deep Incident" of '79, this was just the long delayed shutdown of the machine.
posted by MikeMc at 9:23 PM on June 17, 2012


Wasn't this just posted 2 days ago?
posted by reiichiroh at 10:25 PM on June 17, 2012


The letters are so expressive that they look more like drawings to me than letters. I like the way the lines sit on the page and seem to dance. They remind me of Cy Twombly paintings and energetically Philip Guston's abstract drawings.

Sometimes a hastily scrawled letter is just a hastily scrawled letter.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 10:58 PM on June 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


fatbird: you ran into Park West (probably)! I did once, too.

NYTimes did a story on their fraudulent business practices
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:59 PM on June 17, 2012


Wasn't this just posted 2 days ago?

It has. This post, one of a number of Limited Reproductions, has been hand-commented by our team of highly-trained artisanal web chatterers, based on an original post by famed Commentator of Light, snaparapans. (Following snaparapans's untimely death in a freak calamari overdose, this work, sought after by collectors and speculators, will only increase in value.)
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:05 PM on June 17, 2012 [23 favorites]


Man: We were on a Princess Cruise, which runs its own little system, but the way it works reads just like Park West's operation--offering apparently steep discounts on "appraised" values, etc.
posted by fatbird at 11:07 PM on June 17, 2012


The best part of the NYT Park West article

"But about two hours after The New York Times asked Mr. Scaglione about Mr. Maldonado’s case, Park West phoned Mr. Maldonado to offer him a full refund.

Priceless
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 11:25 PM on June 17, 2012


Or Dale Chihuly

Are you seriously trashing Chihuly?

I live in a Chihuly-rich area, and have seen many of his works in person.

It's hard to compare him with Kinkade on any level. The kind of art they create, the medium in which they work, the availability of their works to the art consumer... there is nothing in common here.

The Chihuly works I've seen in person have all been really intense experiences of color and light, and they change with the time of day during which they are viewed. His smaller works are engaging on a personal level, and his larger works are overwhelming in their scope and power.

If you can further elucidate what you mean with your comment, I'd be happy to take in other viewpoints. But my experience with Chihuly doesn't bear out any comparison with Kinkade at all, and others I know who have also seen his works in person would probably agree with me.
posted by hippybear at 11:32 PM on June 17, 2012 [10 favorites]


Kincade and Chihuly both have (had) a full-time staff producing works for them on a commercial scale.

I don't think I've seen a Thomas Kincade painting in person, and I'm no fan of his work, but I did see Chihuly's work at Cheekwood in Nashville, and at the Bellagio. It's nice.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:52 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Reading about the Park West thing: how does this even work? If a sales person said to me: "this item is worth $50,000 but you can buy it for $10,000," my first question would be "if it's worth $50k, why aren't you just selling it for that price to whoever would buy it? Why are you shipping it out to sea and making these claims about it instead of just making money on it right away?"
posted by kavasa at 12:46 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I liked this quote:
"I see what I create as fulfilling a needed cultural function, a need for an iconography of meaning."
He knew exactly what he was doing, and although his work is not to my taste at all, clearly it brought joy to a lot of people.
posted by wuwei at 1:15 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


He was no Bob Ross. And I mean that as a compliment to Bob.
posted by maxwelton at 1:30 AM on June 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


The letters which are beautiful, and quite dark, verging on abstraction (illegibility) to the extent that they could be called drawings

Dude, no. They would be more accurately called "scrawl."
posted by DarlingBri at 2:53 AM on June 18, 2012


.
posted by the noob at 3:44 AM on June 18, 2012


There may well be legal documents signed during Mr. Kinkade's long lost weekend that the family has no wish to see set aside, but which are not being published in newspapers as part of a campaign of vilification against a potential heir.

To my unprofessional eye, the writing looks like that of someone who had tremors in the hands. It's messy, but legible. The ideas are expressed clearly and the reference to the bequest being void in event of a breakup with Ms. Pinto-Walsh is worth noting.

The attack on the holograph addition to the will presupposes that this is clearly a forgery of someone who ordinarily has beautiful handwriting. Is there any evidence of that? Or even that Mr. Kinkade could draw? Because taken out of narrative context, these lines and spheres produced as part of his teach-kids-about-art video are graceless, and this charity sketch of a cottage not much better.

You know who really doesn't want to see his death house turned into a museum of Thomas Kinkade's art? The neighbors.
posted by Scram at 3:55 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


...all of which expresses a sugar coated fantasy world devoid of any darkness.

How can you be a painter of light in a world devoid of darkness? The quintessential Kinkade painting is of a house filled with light but viewed only from the outside, in the darkness.
posted by DU at 4:33 AM on June 18, 2012


For comparison, here's Guy Fawkes' signature circa 1605, on a confession after torture, and again eight days later.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:40 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


It clearly says "Guido", why don't we call him that?
posted by thelonius at 4:54 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


The letters which are beautiful, and quite dark, verging on abstraction (illegibility) to the extent that they could be called drawings

That's some serious reading into. They're just scrawled letters. This is like calling a doctor's illegible prescription a drawing.
posted by OmieWise at 5:06 AM on June 18, 2012


If a sales person said to me: "this item is worth $50,000 but you can buy it for $10,000," my first question would be "if it's worth $50k, why aren't you just selling it for that price to whoever would buy it? Why are you shipping it out to sea and making these claims about it instead of just making money on it right away?"

The painting is worth $50,000 but they are getting it for only $10,000 so therefore they are making money. Anyone telling them they aren't making money is obviously a jerk who doesn't want them to make money. Why are you being a jerk, kavasa?

Remember this when you try to explain to your friend or relative that such-and-such-supposed-billionaire-investor sure as hell didn't get to be a billionaire by paying people to sell stuff on a website and exponentially increasing their overhead by having each salesperson recruit more salespeople by word of mouth and weekend retreats.

They're a billionaire, kavasa, they know what they're doing.
posted by eurypteris at 5:13 AM on June 18, 2012


The letters which are beautiful, and quite dark, verging on abstraction (illegibility) to the extent that they could be called drawings,

There's art (which Kinkade's work is, even if I think it bad art)* and there's writing of a drunk/high/messed up person. These fall into the latter category, and there's something tragic to me in trying to make these scrawls into a work of art as it seems to miss the point of what was going on at this stage of his life.

* This isn't my main problem with it - if people like it, they like it - I don't go around critiquing people who have pictures of the Sacred Heart on their walls either though I feel much the same way about that painting. I just have no idea why it is so expensive given that it's just reproductions, some of which have been touched (possibly) by the master. It's not like if you buy a poster from a gallery of a Da Vinci painting they charge $5,000 because it's been in the same building as the original.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 5:20 AM on June 18, 2012


And for the record one of my favourite artistic genres is those horrifically gloopy 19th century history paintings that were like crack to the Victorians, so it's not like I have elevated tastes or am (as one of the proKincade links above says) "talking genuine intolerance and bigotry" towards Kincade. I just think he's not very good at gloopy and sentimental: he should have spent sometime studying Landseer.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 5:26 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


To my unprofessional eye, the writing looks like that of someone who had tremors in the hands.

The first thing I thought (equally unprofessionally) was neurological problems, possibly due to his alcohol abuse. To me, that would make his death less likely to be "accidental" but that's pure speculation on my part.
posted by tommasz at 5:49 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've just spent three weeks marking kids' literacy essays. I saw quite a few that looked exactly like this. They are not artistic studies. They are a product of poor coordination.

As others have pointed out, he wrote them when fucked up or in a stage of neurological degradation.
posted by Wolof at 5:56 AM on June 18, 2012


How can you call him a fraud?

snaparapans, you should read the 4-page LA Times article Frobenius Twist linked above; it's got plenty of information about the accusations Kincade used Christian bullshit to snow believers/investors while living a drunken mess of a life, and also points out the ways Kincade and his upper level pals managed to make millions while the gallery owners and investors were left holding an empty bag.
posted by mediareport at 5:59 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


How do you accidentally kill yourself with alcohol and Valium? I have a prescription, and there are warnings all over the place that you shouldn't drink while taking it. Plus it's just common knowledge not to mix the two for most adults. I would think you'd just fall asleep before drinking too much.

I'm not being snarky and I mean no disrespect - how do they determine if it's accidental and not suicide?
posted by desjardins at 6:15 AM on June 18, 2012


Kincade and Chihuly and Koons and Sargeant and Renoir and Rembrandt and innumerable other artists... have (had) a full-time staff producing works for them on a commercial scale.
posted by From Bklyn at 6:19 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was given a family bible for my wedding from a close and respected family member that includes illustrations from Kinkade. I can't part with it and I'm loathe to wish any ill fate to come to Holy Scripture, so there it remains with me. If there ever was a fly in the Chardonnay this is it.
posted by dgran at 6:26 AM on June 18, 2012


I'm no expert, but I can think of a couple of ways they might be able to conclude an accidental death. If it was part of his normal routine to combine Valium with alcohol in amounts less than enough to kill him, they might assume that he had no intent on that particular night to consume a lethal amount. Plus, I'm sure they did toxicology tests as part of an autopsy. If the blood alcohol/Valium levels were elevated enough to be lethal but not staggeringly high, they might consider that there's no evidence he was committing a purposeful act.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 6:28 AM on June 18, 2012


Someone needs to paint those singing bass fishes in a style reminiscent of Kinkade. THAT will be your Hit Kitsch Overload Moment.
posted by symbioid at 6:41 AM on June 18, 2012


How do you accidentally kill yourself with alcohol and Valium? I have a prescription, and there are warnings all over the place that you shouldn't drink while taking it. Plus it's just common knowledge not to mix the two for most adults. I would think you'd just fall asleep before drinking too much.

Mixing benzos and alcohol is a really "normal" way to abuse both drugs. Drug abuse is dangerous, but not uncommon. In the absence of explicit markers of suicidality, or an active attempt, but in the presence of a history of drug abuse, deeming the death accidental is pretty logical.
posted by OmieWise at 6:49 AM on June 18, 2012


hippy bear: Are you seriously trashing Chihuly?

Not at all. I think that Kinkade is a great artist.

It's hard to compare him with Kinkade on any level.

We'll I did not think of the comparison at first. I got it from Kenneth Baker Art Critic of SF Chronicle.

The Chihuly works I've seen in person have all been really intense experiences of color and light, and they change with the time of day during which they are viewed.

I believe that those who own or have spent some time with Kinkade oils in person, would say the same thing. Oil paintings are basically emulsions of pigment suspended in oil adhered to a vertical surface. Part of why oil painting has been so popular over the ages is that it seems to be alive as it changes with the light.

I think that many Kincade haters base their opinion of him because he reminds them of Codpiece. The paintings are much harder to discuss and less fun for most compared to bashing christian populism and the financially super successful.
posted by snaparapans at 7:15 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


[snaparapans, you seem to be trying to guide the discussion here a bit, which – especially as the original poster – is not encouraged (threadsitting). It's cool that you have an interest in the subject, and cool to post about it, but you need to throttle back a bit. ]
posted by taz at 7:34 AM on June 18, 2012


The paintings are much harder to discuss and less fun for most compared to bashing christian populism and the financially super successful.

I thought Kinkade's work was hilariously awful long before I was ever aware that he did a sideline in Christian themed work (I was only familiar with the chocolate-box pseudo-Victorian cottages/villages stuff). The whole "is it art" question is a tedious and pointless rabbit hole (it's art if you say it is). To a certain extent the whole "is it good art" question is equally tedious and pointless: if you think it's wonderful, then more power to you--you can count yourself lucky that it's so readily available. But the "you just pretend not to like him because he's a successful Christian" claim is just as ridiculous as the "it's not art because he had assistants" claim. Show me another artist--as atheistic and unsuccessful as you like--who paints twee little chocolate-box/Christmas card scenes of this kind (and they're hardly distinctive or unusual) who gets lionized by the art world establishment. There aren't any, because the art world establishment simply does not have any interest in that kind of art--Christian or not, successful or not. Meantime, the list of either "financially super successful" or devoutly Christian (or both) artists who are widely celebrated by the art world is pretty nearly endless.
posted by yoink at 7:39 AM on June 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Scram:[Evidence] that Mr. Kinkade could draw?

Lots, he was a fine draftsman and highly skilled painter, not that is essential to be a good or great artist. Many contemporary artists who are at the top of their game, and taken very seriously, hire people to make their paintings.

Here is a drawing: The Old Trapper

And the book: An Artist's Guide To Sketching, 1982 by James Gurney and Thomas Kinkade evidence that he could draw.

He also wrote a book Drawing Basics marketed to 3-5 year olds + mostly used by homeschoolers.

The guy could draw.
posted by snaparapans at 7:41 AM on June 18, 2012


Here is a drawing: [The Old Trapper] The guy could draw.

* goes to "Old Trapper" link, studies placement of facial features in the drawing *

Uh....not sure about that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:47 AM on June 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


MikeMc: "All of these statements are probably true if you accept her definition of "poet."

And why not accept her definition? Who has been appointed to decide what is, or is not, poetry? If she says she's a poet than she's a poet.

that nobody else really considered her work "poetry," let alone meaningful poetry.

This just kinda rubs me the wrong way. Apparently at least one person considers her work poetry and that's all you really need. Also, meaningful to who? Who are these arbiters of meaning and what right do they have to determine what is meaningful for others?
"

Frobenius Twist' link to AV Club rebutts:
It’s part of a pervasive pattern of self-destructive behavior for Kinkade, whose innocuous, assembly-line images of peaceful cottages, Jesuses, and snow scenes have made him the nation’s self-described “most collected artist,” which is sort of like Velveeta bragging that it’s “America’s most sought-after cheese.
So, I would agree that, if you like her poetry, good for you; you like it.

But for most people,
the Mona Lisa >> the GIF of a milk-daubed kitten they forwarded 10x yesterday,
The Beatles' Carry That Weight >> the Dorito's jingle stuck in their head, and
Rodin's The Thinker >> Hummel figurines on their kitchen sill,

because I believe most people distinguish between decoration and art. I could be wrong.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:47 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maxfield Parrish is the true painter of light as far as I'm concerned.
posted by Sailormom at 7:48 AM on June 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


tax:[snaparapans, you seem to be trying to guide the discussion here a bit, which – especially as the original poster – is not encouraged (threadsitting). It's cool that you have an interest in the subject, and cool to post about it, but you need to throttle back a bit. ]OK Taz, Got it... as a relative newbie I appreciate the tip (threadsitting) on MetaCustoms..
posted by snaparapans at 7:49 AM on June 18, 2012


* goes to "Old Trapper" link, studies placement of facial features in the drawing *

Uh....not sure about that.


It could be that the guy did, in fact, have wonky eyes and some sort of neurological condition on the left side of his face. You don't know.
posted by yoink at 7:50 AM on June 18, 2012


I like the lulz against Kinkade's banal art as much as anyone, but it's hard to take much pleasure in his death and the subsequent squabble over his estate. I feel bad for the man in his last decade; shrinking business, fraud litigation, a slow death by alcohol and Valium. There's no irony in juxtaposition to his treacly paintings, there's just the sadness of a successful man's life crumbling in middle age. And the denouement, a girlfriend taking a shaky handwritten will to court and the counter of a nasty, denigrating article in the hometown paper.
posted by Nelson at 8:12 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


"I feel lucky to have had the time with Mr. Kinkade that I did before his untimely passing. But, clearly, his estate should belong largely to his first wife, but more importantly to his four children, as these years spent with the love of my life were reward enough for me. I would like to keep [some specific sentimental articles], but I feel the bulk of the estate ought to be handled by his children and the mother of his children."
posted by TheRedArmy at 8:46 AM on June 18, 2012


I like the lulz against Kinkade's banal art as much as anyone, but it's hard to take much pleasure in his death and the subsequent squabble over his estate.

I don't think it's fair to characterize peoples' reactions as taking pleasure in his death. My point of view is that the last years of his life are the inevitable result of a life spent as a hypocrite who espoused Christian values while mistreating and swindling those who trusted him. I don't believe in karma, but I do believe that if you are a crappy human being who treats other people like shit, you'll have one hell of a nasty drop when your fame starts to dwindle.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 8:54 AM on June 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Before this thread, snaparapans, I was aware of a certain currency of the phrase "painter of light", but I would never have connected it to the name Kinkade, and I am such a recluse I don't think I'd ever even seen an image of his work.

Now that I have thanks to you, I don't like it, but I think he is a significant painter, and beyond that a very important cultural phenomenon, and I'm very grateful for the introduction.

And I think the discussion in this thread has been excellent, though I would have liked to hear from a few more Kinkade advocates.
posted by jamjam at 9:04 AM on June 18, 2012


jamjam...though I would have liked to hear from a few more Kinkade advocates.

Some Kind of Man

An interesting reflection on:
How did the guy we knew become the millionaire commander of a beseiged outpost at the edge of the Culture Wars?
posted by snaparapans at 9:13 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thomas Kinkade's 16 Guidelines for Making Stuff Suck:
Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light™, extends his purview to motion pictures with this week’s release of Thomas Kinkade’s Christmas Cottage, an inspirational holiday pastiche based on one of his paintings. Produced by Lionsgate, the film stars Peter O’Toole and Marcia Gay Harden. But not even a name cast could stop it from being unceremoniously dumped to home video a year after its planned release.

One reason might be that Kinkade, a postmodern Norman Rockwell for the evangelist set, instructed the crew to adhere to an aesthetic code that wouldn’t have flown in a first-year film class. The list of 16 “guidelines” on how to create “The Thomas Kinkade Look” on film, which was circulated to crew members in memo form, has been obtained exclusively by VF Daily. (The whole memo can be found at the end of this post)...

To get an expert opinion on Kinkade’s manifesto, I showed it to cinematographer Ellen Kuras, best known for her work with director Spike Lee. She points out that he confuses focal length and depth of field, and questions his overall approach.

“I’ve never seen any of his paintings, but I have to say, he’s very cheesy in his descriptions,” Kuras says. “The whole gauzy, cozy feeling, darkening the edges to make your vision more myopic, I think is about trying to draw the larger metaphor for the way to heaven. But reading all of this, it’s a prescription for a bad ’60s porn movie.”
Pompous, sanctimonious hack peddling pablum to the credulous and devout all the way to the bank while being a hypocritical, abusive drunk behind the scenes.

Good riddance.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:42 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


That was actually a surprisingly deep appraisal of Kincade, sanaarapans, and not by any means hagiographic:
In those chats we covered a lot of ground: Victorian painters, color theory, comics, money, women. But I never got much of a sense of the "real" Tom. When he spoke of his past or his longing for his sweetheart Nanette, it always came out sounding like a story. It's as if Tom knew himself only through the same romanticized fables he told the rest of us.
That convinced me of Kinkade's sincerity, at least at the beginning of his career; he tried to live in the fantasy houses he painted, and the tragedy of his failure is widely shared.
posted by jamjam at 9:56 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


> I just have no idea why it is so expensive given that it's just reproductions, some of which have been
> touched (possibly) by the master.

But if you solve that one for Kinkade you've also solved it for Andy Warhol, whose later stuff was equally churned out by a factory (not The Factory either) with only the most metaphysical involvement by Warhol himself, and is now even more expensive.

I don't see that there's anything more to say about either case once you've said "There's one born every minute."
posted by jfuller at 11:15 AM on June 18, 2012


But if you solve that one for Kinkade you've also solved it for Andy Warhol, whose later stuff was equally churned out by a factory (not The Factory either) with only the most metaphysical involvement by Warhol himself, and is now even more expensive.

I think the difference there is that the commercialism came of a piece with Kincaide's work, in his case. Warhol's stuff got popular first and then the copycatting came along because the demand alread existed. With Kincaide's stuff, the Kincaide salespeople worked to deliberately create that demand by trying to sell people not only on the aesthetics of his work, but also on the idea that "and you know, sometimes art can be a good investment, as well..."

It's kind of like, Warhol was the heirloom tomato, and Kincaide was the Monsanto-spawned genetically-modified hybrid.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:21 AM on June 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: "It's kind of like, Warhol was the heirloom tomato, and Kincaide was the Monsanto-spawned genetically-modified hybrid."

That is of course an amazingly ironic statement to make about Warhol. If he hadn't been ecologically-minded, I'd say Warhol was the Monsanto GM tomato.

As it is, he's more like a plum tomato, I guess.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:33 AM on June 18, 2012


....I was referring exclusively to how demand for the art came into being, IamBroom.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:35 AM on June 18, 2012


> I think the difference there is that the commercialism came of a piece with Kincaide's work

And not of Warhol's? Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art. -- AW
posted by jfuller at 11:38 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


....I'm not articulating this well...maybe a better way of putting it is, I get the sense that Warhol's galleries were kind of up-front about "we're out to make a buck and we're not ashamed to admit that, but we know you already want Warhol's stuff anyway, so everyone wins," whereas Kincaide's galleries were all about "we're going to give you a big song-and-dance about how great this guy's stuff is and convince you to want it, and we're going to hide from you the fact that we're only in it for a buck". And there's a subtle difference there.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:53 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


But if you solve that one for Kinkade you've also solved it for Andy Warhol, whose later stuff was equally churned out by a factory (not The Factory either) with only the most metaphysical involvement by Warhol himself, and is now even more expensive.

I don't see that there's anything more to say about either case once you've said "There's one born every minute."


Not even Warhol got away with selling actual photoreproductions of works with a few hand-painted highlights daubed onto them by hired hands working out the back of the gallery as if they were original works of art. If go into a poster shop and buy a reproduction of a Warhol soup can you'll pay less than $10. If you went to a Kinkade shop and bought a poster produced by exactly the same technology and not in a limited production run you would pay truly absurd sums of money for it and you would have done so while being actively persuaded that you were "investing" in an object whose value would increase with time.

Yeah, these are distinctions that get frayed at the edges and I could certainly cite "high art" cases that get pretty dodgy--but then their dodginess is usually part of the discourse that surrounds and defines them; it's not a case of the stuff being sold to rubes under false pretences. Nobody buys a Hirst dot painting under the impression that it was painstakingly hand-painted by "the master." There really was something genuinely underhand about the model that Kinkade developed to push his stuff.
posted by yoink at 2:21 PM on June 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


To me, Kinkade and his art represent a certain kind of generational nostalgia that is popular among people who came of age in the 1970s and early 1980s.

I saw Kinkade at one of his gallery franchises once. It was at Valley Fair Mall in San Jose/Santa Clara, CA and Kinkade was detailing one of his prints, and I happened to be walking by with a friend. Kinkade was surrounded by a group of adoring fans. I still remember how serious he looked while he worked. My friend, who was and is an accomplished draftsman and architect, ruthlessly mocked Kinkade's work, and I couldn't help but chuckle. This must have been sometime in the late 90s or early 2000s.

I never liked the man's work, and I still don't. What I am interested in, however, is what his popularity says about the culture in which we live. This is my theory: a lot people who grew up in the 70s and 80s got to watch the good life just slip out of their grasp, and they recognized this. They also missed the political ferment of the 1960s, but experienced the aftershocks. While the social movements of the 1960s successfully dethroned the reigning American consensus views, and many of the long-established social norms, it never succeeded in developing a replacement, for whatever reason. There was a sense that everything was going to be questioned, and all values were on the table, but yet, people were left to their own devices to construct personal webs of meaning. That's a lot to ask, and in some ways, as Adam Curtis has pointed out in his docos, it's a very much consumerist way of addressing the problem of collective action, namely, atomized consumers each constructing their own private web of meaning.

In the political context, Thomas Kinkade aligns with the popularity of Ronald Reagan. People Kinkade's age were the ones who jumped on the Reagan bandwagon as working professionals. They didn't want to think about the hard stuff, the hard questions about political economy raised by the 60s social movements. They wanted to return to a past that never existed. People of Kinkade's generation remember growing up in an America where jobs were there for (white) people who worked hard and showed up on time, as the only criteria. And as they got older, they saw that wasn't how it was going to work anymore. But what they failed to realize, was that the only reason the economy was good before, was because of massive collective action in the 30s and 40s. They didn't see it, because they weren't born yet, and everyone wanted to forget about the struggle and drive their powerful V8 sedans down the freeway to their new subdivision.

Flash forward to Kinkade's death. His gallery empire collapsed amid lawsuits, and it appears from the outside that Kinkade and perhaps the senior management defrauded his franchise buyers, as well as the company, in an effort to maximize his immediate profit at the expense of long term survivability. He did this by using a Christian themed sales pitch to his investors and franchise buyers. People wanted to believe, and so Kinkade sold them pretty paintings promising prosperity while picking their pockets. What Kinkade did was a microcosm of what Wall Street and its enablers have done in the wider economy. They talked about Christian values, they encouraged people to believe that prosperity was something individualized, that each of us could live in a small nuclear unit cut-off from the rest of the world. They encouraged people to buy houses and invest in the stock market, knowing they would reap the fees, and knowing that the people to whom they were lending could not ever make the payments.

They mocked collective action in the pulpit and on the news, even as their oligarchic masters conspired to coerce the Federal Reserve to create billions of dollars to bail out their failed investments.

Thomas Kinkade's only mistake, was that he was too small to get a line of credit with the Federal Reserve.
posted by wuwei at 3:30 PM on June 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: I get the sense that Warhol's galleries were kind of up-front...

In my experience, art dealers in general are extremely manipulative, and will do anything to make a sale. Good sales people, imo, are professional liars. In many cases lying, flattery, or whatever insincere act a good salesperson pulls out of their bag of tricks, manipulates the buyer to make the purchase. And the buyer is most often thrilled because s/he would not have bought the piece of art without being manipulated.

The fancy galleries are no different from the ones Kinkade franchised, imo, if not worse. Most art has little or no value after it leaves the gallery, even though part of the implicit sales pitch is always that buying the artwork will be a great investment.

If someone is buying a lot of one young emerging artist, dealers will think that they are getting over on the buyer. If the artist becomes famous, the dealers get mad at the buyer for getting over on them, as they move from being rubes to competitors.

The fact that Kinkade buyers continue to get inspiration, insight, or joy from their purchases is a good thing, imo. The dealers that got ripped off by Kinkade, well I am would guess that they were just as greedy as Kinkade was if not more. Some got compensated for their loss in court. These types of lawsuits are rife in the fancy art world, too. I do not have much sympathy for art dealers in general. For artists, I most often give them the benefit of the doubt.
posted by snaparapans at 8:04 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


THOMAS CTHULU
posted by scouringpad at 3:36 PM on June 27, 2012


An Analysis of the Thomas Kinkade Calendar for July
posted by homunculus at 6:31 PM on July 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


There is more intimacy between the shapes in Mondrian's geometric grids than there is here.

Great line, and so true.

Kinkade: Post Humanism. He distilled the sappy humanism out of Rockwell, into pure treacle.

I more I think about it, and the more Kinkade I see, the more I am convinced that he is great. He nailed the Sugar Pop aspect of American life, where everything is reduced to happy. His work is like Warhol and Koons without one iota of irony. Even Tom Otterness who can be compared to Koons but without the irony, is deeply ironic compared to Kinkade.
posted by snaparapans at 8:28 PM on July 2, 2012


« Older Friendship bracelets! A photo tutorial for chevron...  |  TorChat is an instant messagin... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments