The walls of the art gallery at Cal State Fullerton are painted Kinkade green, the same foresty background used by his galleries to show his art. The campus location features paintings of Christmas scenes and an enormous lighted pine tree covered in Kinkade ornaments made of china and paper. A Kinkade electric train is posed under the tree along with Kinkade coasters, stockings, greeting cards, cocoa, coffee and toys. A dining table is set with a Kinkade table runner, candleholder, fruit bowl and salt and pepper shakers. A Kinkade spice rack hangs on the wall.
I am trying not to feel badly for Thomas Kinkade. I hate the trailer trash-turned-multimillionaire as much as the next starving artist. I mean...he's got those Christians on his side, and I may love Jesus as much as the next girl, but the only levitating cross i want to see is the one hovering over a mountain in Los Feliz. At least we can all rest safe in knowing that he'll never be respected in the long run, even if he did make over $100 million last year. As the Danielle Steel of the painting world, Kinkade can have the big house, sure, but no one will remember him. Or we could...
I had been able to compress my disdain for Mr. K for quite some time now, that is, until Jeffrey Vallance got his Guggenheim and decided to do a show of Thomas Kinkade
Vallance insists that the exhibition was never meant as a tongue- in-cheek commentary. "It wouldn't be a good show if you did it with irony," he says. "The thing that most intrigues me about Kinkade is the way he markets his objects and the way that he infiltrates himself into the lives of everyday people. He multiplies his images on everything. These are in millions of homes around the world. It is what Warhol wanted to do but Kinkade has done it even better."
Does Thomas even get it? Does he care? It's amazing that a show about the most widely-represented living artist today can cause an uproar, but I know several people that are boycotting it, calling it mean-spirited. But, like Mrs. Miller, William Hung, and all the people on the gong show, it seems like we need Kinkade to not
get it. We need him to continue mindlessly oblivious, dimming his lights as he paints to make sure he gets gaslamps nuances right, so we can laugh at our own elitist inside joke. I'm not against this by any means (as anyone who knows me could tell you), but i do this we should at least admit it among ourselves...Come on society, grow a spine!
Vallance seems to pick up an interesting point. If re-painting and arranging Brillo boxes, putting ones initials on a urinal, and stuffing a shoppingcart with stuff can be art, why can't Thomas Kinkade be an artist? There comes a point, usually with exhorbitant success, when it becomes easier to think of the subject as a non-artist. It's a comforting thought that keeps me sleeping and binge-drinking most nights, because, like existentialism, the alternative (that we all just completely suck) is too terrible to fathom.
Back to the show...I reccomend going. I myself may be able to handle it from a literary distance as I am only minimally cobblestone and ivy-friendly, but if i can slip a flask of some strong liquor in there, I may be able to hack it.