Thomas Kinkade, Hack Artist and Fallen Christian

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The art world is famous for producing tragedies.  I would not refer to the Thomas Kinkade story as a tragedy, but maybe it was.  The man died, millions of dollars in debt.  The Pink Flamingo would not even be bothering with this tawdry tale, if it weren’t for the fact that Kinkade made many claims about being a great Christian.

I don’t know about you, but I find ‘fake’ (and I use that term advisedly) repulsive.  I constantly get an image of Jim and Tammy Faye when they were in their glory. I never thought much of Thomas Kinkade.  To The Pink Flamingo he was a hack, plain and simple. I still don’t understand why people buy his “art”.   Then again, I don’t understand why anyone could be flimflamed into buying signed & numbered prints as an investment.  (I may do a post about this).

We are told we are not to judge a person’s faith, but we’re also told that we can make judgment calls about a person from the life they live.  Let’s examine that a little.

“...Such whimsy illustrates the lighter side of the Kinkade his supporters say is genial and genuine, a “regular guy” with small-town roots. He also has raised millions for charities, including the Salvation Army and Make-A-Wish Foundation.

But a far more selfish portrait of the artist emerges from legal action brought by former gallery owners against Kinkade, Media Arts Group Inc. — the public company he has since taken private — and some who helped build it into a $250-million-a-year retail juggernaut before its sales flagged and its stock tanked.

Ex-dealers allege that the artist used his faith — and manipulated theirs — to induce them to invest in Thomas Kinkade Signature Galleries, independently owned stores licensed to deal exclusively in his work. They also contend he sought to devalue the company before buying it back two years ago for $32.7 million, renaming it Thomas Kinkade Co.

Company executives and lawyers contend that a steep drop in the number of Signature galleries, which have dwindled to fewer than half of the 350 that once existed, is a result of a broad decline in the limited-edition art business, hastened by the dot-com crash, a shrinking economy and the Sept. 11 attacks….”

He built an image based on his alleged Christian faith.  He died a drunk, in debt, his family shattered.  His legacy will be forever tarnished.

“…From 1997 through May 2005, Kinkade reaped more than $50 million in royalties from his prints and licensed product lines, according to testimony in the recently decided arbitration case. His images adorn air fresheners, night lights, teddy bears, toys, tote bags, pillows, umbrellas and La-Z-Boy loungers, which one retailer’s ad describes as “something not merely to be acquired, but collected — like fine art itself.”…”

LA Times

This is just another in The Pink Flamingo’s never ending futile crusade to try and get conservatives to listen to reason, use a little logic, and open their closed eyes. It is also an attempt to force a  little good taste upon a tasteless society.  I know, it gets old, but please, attempt to expand your horizons. Let’s just say I don’t consider anyone who sells their work on QVC to be a real “artist”.  I consider them to be a popularizing hack with a winning marketing combination.  When I think of a “real” artist, I think (quite fondly and quit sadly) of my dear friend, the late Doug Chaffee.  I also think of Michael Hurd, who is, arguably, the finest artist the legendary Wythe-Hurd dynasty has produced.  Michael is a great artist. Doug was one of the finest artists I have ever encountered. Kinkade was not.  THIS is art.

Pathos

“…Kinkade challenged the high-brow haughtiness of the art world, grew rich in the process, and seemed to fumble around, rock-star like, with drinking and bad behavior. Liberals scoffed at the hypocrisy of yet another social-religious conservative who couldn’t live up to a decent set of moral standards, while his mass-produced images were hugely loved, especially by evangelical Christians who felt that here, finally, was an artist for them. Probably no other artist has garnered a significant write-up in both Christianity Today and The New Yorker. He called himself the “Painter of Light” and then trademarked the phrase. He includes a Christian fish (ichthus) above his signature—but he’s also alleged to have urinated on a Winnie the Pooh figure at Disneyland, among other socially unacceptable activities..”

The late Thomas Kinkade is a case in point.  Not only was he a very successful hack artist who churned out work that will have no lasting value, but he was a fake, an alcoholic fake, manipulating Christians who, for strange reason, always look for something to hold on to, instead of clinging to Christ.

WPost

The past few years of his life saw his marriage in ruins, his life a mess, and will horribly taint his legacy.  You see, his mistress is trying to cash in on his death. If she does, the “Christian legacy” of Kinkade will be in the sewer and the family business, exploiting his “Christian legacy” will lose money.

Printiana

.”..In court documents obtained Friday afternoon by Los Gatos Patch at the Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose, three attorneys with the Los Angeles-based law firm of Zuber & Taillieu LLP, said they are seeking the injunction to prevent Pinto-Walsh from disclosing information in breach of a confidentiality agreement she signed Feb. 25, 2011.

Kinkade, 54, was reported to have died the morning of April 6 in his Monte Sereno estate on Ridgecrest Drive. On Saturday, April 7, Pinto-Walsh gave a phone interview to Los Gatos Patch and said she was with Kinkade when he died, had called 911 at 11:30 a.m. and identified herself as Amy Pinto.

She also said she was Kinkade’s live-in girlfriend, was with him for 18 months and that Kinkade had been separated from his wife Nanette for quite a while.

As to the cause of death, she said she wasn’t supposed to divulge the information and that the Santa Clara County Coroner’s Office would have more details in the next few days. “He died in his sleep … He had a heart condition,” she said.

The petition, to be heard by Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Patricia M. Lucas, seeks to prohibit Pinto-Walsh from making statements or engaging in conduct that has the effect of defaming, criticizing, disparaging or discrediting Kinkade, Nanette Kinkade, or any company owned by Kinkade “to appear in a negative light or false light.”

It also seeks to prevent Pinto-Walsh, who is living in the late painter’s Monte Sereno mansion on Ridgecrest Drive, from publishing or assisting in the publishing of any book, article, review, notice, press release, advertisement, public or private communication or report concerning Kinkade, Nanette Kinkade or any company owned by Kinkade.

The order also states it wants to stop Pinto-Walsh from selling, trading, publishing, disclosing, producing, permitting access to or otherwise revealing proprietary information to anyone by means of photocopy, reproduction or electronic media….”

You  might want to read some of the comments left at this site, following the article above.  It is pathetic, and just such an example of dimwits in action.  I feel sorry for people who fall for every charming article, and don’t see the reality of life.  With Kinkade it was all about the money.  My heart goes out to any family dealing with alcoholism.  People can be so easily exploited and so difficult to deal with.  Until a person is ready to change, their lives and those around them are utter chaos.  In many ways it has nothing to do with sin and repentance but a person who is ruining their life through a disease.  Until that person recognizes they have such a disease, they can degenerate into absolute destruction of themselves and the world around them.  Nothing matters but that last drink.

One News Now

If ever there was a perfect example of the blindness of Christians who are followers, this is.  Christ never intended for us to follow others.  We are to follow Him.

Daily Mail

“…But in recent years financial troubles and bizarre behavior began overwhelming the idyllic images.

Kinkade was accused of behaving inappropriately with women and even urinating on a Winnie the Pooh figure at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim — an especially odd occurrence for a man who compared himself to Walt Disney, as well as Norman Rockwell, the illustrator of iconic Americana.

In a 2006 letter to his gallery owners, he denied some charges but chalked up the rest to drinking and overeating caused by stress, adding that “With God’s help and the support of my family and friends, I have returned balance to my life.”

Then in 2009, the Los Angeles Times reported that the FBI was investigating Kinkade for defrauding investors; in 2010, his company’s manufacturing arm filed for bankruptcy protection. Also that year Kinkade was reportedly arrested on suspicion of drunk driving.

Despite the problems, Kinkade managed to amass legions of fans whom he jokingly referred to as a “cult,” and professional critics could never dent his popularity….”

Patheos

I’m sorry, but to me, all of this is a crock.  It reeks of advertising and self-promotion.  It is quit obvious the man was a marketing genius.  To me, this is just “Christian” speak for someone who is using decent and honorable men and women to con and sell a product.

“…Kinkade production company Pacific Metro LLC of Morgan Hill, Calif., filed for Chapter 11 protection Wednesday in nearby San Jose, disclosing in court papers that it’s “in serious financial condition and is unable to continue without debt relief.” The filing came a day after Pacific Metro, formerly known as Thomas Kinkade Co. and Media Arts Group Inc., was supposed to make a $1 million payment to two former art gallery owners in connection with a lawsuit, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The filing will prevent Pacific Metro’s creditors, including Karen Hazlewood and Jeff Spinello, from demanding payment. Hazlewood and Spinello won a $3 million legal judgment against the company in a lawsuit they brought against Kinkade alleging that he used his Christian faith to fraudulently persuade them to open one of the artist’s “signature” galleries. As a result, Hazlewood and Spinello said they suffered such ills as being stuck with merchandise they couldn’t sell. In a long-running legal battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court, Hazlewood and Spinello won a $2.8 million legal judgment against Pacific Metro, some of which the company already paid off and another portion of which came due this week….”

God Reports

“…“We made a deliberate choice to live near the center of the village so that we can walk into town to get a cup of coffee or go to the candy store, which has a big tree where we go to enjoy the candies and it really creates a simple life,” he said. “We also do a lot of games and a lot of reading. We have a family devotion that we do on a regular basis, where the kids pray and we pray with them. These are simple things to do, yet they don’t cost any money and you’d be surprised when people say, ‘Oh, that’s easy for you because you’ve become successful and you’re artists and you have all these freedom.’ That’s completely untrue. It’s accessible to every person and every family to simply substitute a non-productive stress-inducing behavior with those that create a sense of peace and well-being and closeness to God.

“We are in a post-verbal, post-written-word society. We are fast approaching an image-based society. It is very interesting to see that reading as a skill is probably sustaining itself at a certain level, but reading as a recreational activity is declining. People are surfing the Net or spending time watching television or renting videos rather than spending time with a good book. As a result, the era when you could write a Christian book and hope to change the world is changing. The power of the written word is being weakened and that should not be a scary thing for the Christian Church because ultimately, God’s Word, though it is a written word, is only of power when it is enlivened by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of men. It is truly the Holy Spirit that communicates with us and not text printed page. But having said all of that, I believe we are entering an era where new and exciting formats for spreading the Gospel will be very relevant to people. I think we should not be afraid of the Internet. We should embrace it and be a force of light on the darkness of the Internet as a Christian Church….”

Oh?  Do Christians do what Kinkade did to “galleries” marketing his work selling his kitch prints?

Franchise Times

I found an interesting review that states the obvious.  I am a huge fan of the Romantic period in art.  Thanks to the catastrophic eruption of Krakatau European skies were filled with light that inspired an entire generation of greatness.  I suspect Kinkade was trying to cash in on this. In a way, his work was a pathetic imatition of Constable.

Artspace

 “...Thomas Kinkade was known as the “Painter of Light,” but the last few years of his life seem to have been fairly dark: The Daily reports that Kinkade owed about $9 million to at least 165 creditors when he died. Claims range from the huge ($2.4 million from a decade-old dispute with two former gallery owners, $40,000 in back taxes) to the tiny ($125 owed to a computer and toner supply company) and also include the fairly bizarre ($2,251 to … Arrowhead Mountain spring water?). His bankrupt distribution arm, once worth $145 million, was down to $1.4 million in cash and $6.5 million in assets last April.

A bankruptcy reorganization agreement required Kinkade to continue releasing images, whose proceeds would go to creditors. Now, proceeds from rapidly increasing sales after Kinkade’s death will do that instead, and court documents also hint that unreleased work may also exist. The Huffington Post and The Stir recall Kinkade’s troubled past few years, including accusations of inappropriate behavior with women and urinating on a Winnie the Pooh statue at Disneyland, allegations of defrauding investors and other business and legal troubles, a separation from his wife, and a DUI. Kinkade had owned up to some poor behavior in 2006, blaming stress for his problems with alcohol and overeating….”

He blamed his problems on over-eating?  The man was a con artist, literally.  He bilked millions of unsuspecting people out of their hard earned cash by selling them a brand – Thomas Kinkade “Christian”.  Still, people continued to fall for the act.

Mike Duran

“…It was about this time, in 2006, when aggrieved ex-employees began testifying in court cases about Kinkade’s odd, “Jekyll-and-Hyde” personal behavior, rivetingly documented by the Los Angeles Times. Once, Kinkade allegedly heckled Siegfried & Roy during a drunken binge in Las Vegas. “I think it was Roy or Siegfried or whatever had a codpiece in his leotards,” one former Kinkade employee testified. “And so when the show started, Thom just started yelling, ‘Codpiece, codpiece,’ and had to be quieted by his mother and [wife] Nanette.” (Picture our hero surrounded by menacing, Creamsicle-colored cats and two whip-wielding Spandex devils. Title: “Lion’s Den.”)

He allegedly flipped off a colleague’s wife who tried to help him when he fell off a bar stool drunk, and “palmed” a woman’s breast at a publicity event in Indiana while saying “these are great tits!” And then there was the time he supposedly relieved himself on a Winnie the Pooh statue in a Disney hotel in Anaheim, Calif., while saying, “This one’s for you, Walt.” (Imagine Ashdown Forest at daybreak, and Winnie is drenched from a spontaneous shower; Tigger, Eeyore flee in terror. Title: “Golden Moments.”) When asked about this last story, Kinkade conceded in testimony that “there may have been some ritual territory marking going on, but I don’t recall it.”

At least Kinkade’s ritual territory-marking on us has slowed to a trickle. Back in 2001, he boasted to “60 Minutes” of a world where soon “you can put a Thomas Kinkade couch beneath your Thomas Kinkade painting. Next to the Thomas Kinkade couch goes the Thomas Kinkade end table. On top of that goes your collection of Thomas Kinkade books, Thomas Kinkade collectibles, Thomas Kinkade throw rugs. You can snuggle your Thomas Kinkade teddy bear.” Kinkade continues to hawk his prints on QVC, but the number of franchises has been cut by half, and a hyped Hollywood film based on his life and most famous painting, “Christmas Cottage” — where Peter O’Toole, playing the young Kinkade’s mentor, beseeches his pupil to, “Paint the light, Thomas! PAINT THE LIGHT!” — was relegated to a DVD release in 2008. His candy-colored empire fades….

LA Times

“…“I think it was Roy or Siegfried or whatever had a codpiece in his leotards,” Dandois testified. “And so when the show started, Thom just started yelling, ‘Codpiece, codpiece,’ and had to be quieted by his mother and Nanette.”

At other times, Kinkade could be downright nasty, Dandois testified, recalling an incident in which Dandois’ wife tried to help the allegedly inebriated artist to his feet in a bar.

“He had been falling down, and he fell off the stool, and he was laying on the ground and just looked up at her and flipped her the bird and told her, you know, just to ‘F you’ several times,” Dandois testified.

In an interview, Sheppard, who often accompanied Kinkade on the road, recounted a trip to Orange County in the late 1990s for the artist’s appearance on the “Hour of Power” television show at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove. On the eve of the broadcast, Sheppard said, he and Kinkade returned to the Disneyland Hotel after a night of heavy drinking. As they walked to their rooms, according to Sheppard and another person who was there, Kinkade veered toward a nearby figure of a Disney character….”

“Christians” like this repulse me.   I truly hope, when Kinkade passed away, that his soul was right with the Lord. If we are to “judge” by how he spent his life, I think he has some ‘splainin’ to do.

I would like to contrast the high-profile life of Thomas Kinkade with my friend, Doug Chaffee.  A year ago, last Friday, Doug went home to be with our Lord.  He left behind a loving wife, Melba, a son every parent should wish to raise, and two grandsons.  He also left a legacy we should all envy.

When space, science fiction, astronomical, and military artists are discussed, they are listed in order:  Norman Rockwell, Robert McCall, and Doug Chaffee.  Doug’s work has been displayed in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.  Yes, he was that good.  He was great, then again I am highly prejudiced.  He was one of the best friends I ever had. To put it into perspective, Doug was the head of IBM’s art department during the early days of the Apollo Program.  One of his illustrations of the entire program concept, Morning Launch, was chosen to be shown to Congress, in order to help secure funding to send an American to the moon.

Yes – his work was THAT important.  He may not have generated millions in get-rich schemes, marketing to small galleries all over the country, but he helped Congress envision what it would look like for the United States to go to the Moon.  As we all know, members of Congress are not all that bright when it comes to some things.  Doug’s magnificent rendering of the Apollo launch vehicle being rolled out of the yet to be built VAB helped those in the Senate and the House to see what the launch vehicle would look like, and what the iconic VAB would be.

One of the things that few people knew about Doug is that he donated his time and talent to illustrate Sunday School leaflets for children.  I can remember endless arguments with him on the subject.  Why was he wasting his time doing the illustrations – for free, when he could be working on other things.

That was his Mission.  It was his tithe.  It was his offering.  It was Doug’s way of giving back to the Lord for the great talent he had been given.  He put me in my place with his simple explanation of why he worked, diligently, week in and week out, for many years, churning out illustrations that hundreds of thousands of children took home with them, every week.

He never took a cent for his work.  It was all done for the love of Christ.

When I think of a Christian artist, I think of Doug.  There were no drunken scenes in Vegas.  He did enjoy the science fiction con scene, where he was a super-star with rock star status.  He did not bilk anyone out of anything.  He was quite, understated, and had a warped sense of humor.  Aside from being a good Republican, Doug had a little secret, he was a UFO buff.

One time I was getting ready to leave for a trip out here to New Mexico.  The night before I was to leave, he called. A night owl, it was at least one in the morning.  He just wanted to tell me to have a safe trip.  Oh, and there were some harrowing reports of UFOs terrorizing people on certain roads I was to travel.  Just be careful and keep an eye on the sky.  There were reports of….

 

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2 thoughts on “Thomas Kinkade, Hack Artist and Fallen Christian

  1. Let’s face it, Americans are low brow, shallow, and love to surround themselves with idols – both human and inanimate. I have a few idols of my own but I’m pleased to say none are as uninspiring as a Kinkade oil.

    Hanging out at the Crystal Cathedral and the TBN network is a perfect match for the phonies on both sides of that equation…

    I’ve seen your friend Chaffee’s work and it is astonishing. Also the magnificent stuff from the Clan Wyeth. For those who want idyllic, light-bearing Americana, there is also Winslow Homer.

  2. Art is so subjective. That’s what is wonderful about it. I have a weakness for tacky watercolors of beaches with sea grass and palm trees. I also have a fondness for the Florida Highwayman school. Years ago their work was considered just stuff that could be traded for a hundred bucks and hung over a bar. Now, it is it’s own “school” of art. I rescued the three paintings my aunts took off my grandmother’s wall, and were going to toss them out – now they’re considered “American classics”.

    SJR

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