Friday, November 28, 2008

Michael Bates: Blogger of Stupid

In this week's Urban Tulsa, Michael Bates is apparently going to expound on the profound meaning behind one of America's most prolific painters.

Thomas Kinkade.

According to Bates, we can take lessons from the "Painter of Light" about how "places...have the ability to touch the heart."

Thomas Kinkade is the very symbol of everything that is vapid and meaningless about modern consumer culture. His "art" if it can be properly called that, which it can't, is mass-produced garbage packaged with a clever marketing scheme that creates a mythos that Kinkade is some kind of New Age/Evangelical guru. The pieces themselves, nondescript scenes of cottages, rivers, trees, churches, and other such completely meaningless idyllic scenes, are sold in little stores in malls across America, as if they had no more purpose or deeper meaning than, say, a GAP sweater, which they don't.

Thomas Kinkade is the artistic equivalent of simultaneously listening to Kenny G, eating at the Olive Garden, watching Oprah, and reading an inspirational book by Deepak Chopra.

All while having a giant crystal shoved up your ass for good measure.

Mr. Bates, I have a suggestion for your next column. Please, go to a local elevator or grocery store and review the music being piped over the speakers. Surely you have an opinion on that wonderfully mellow instrumental version of Abba's "Waterloo" that keeps looping over and over again.

Or heck, go review local "smooth jazz" celebrity what's his ass, um, Grady Nichols. If you find meaning in Thomas Kinkade, then Grady Nichols will blow your fucking mind.

Edit: I just noticed that there's a TM after the phrase "Painter of Light" in Bates' post. So in other words, this guy Kinkade has a trademarked advertising slogan.


Edit 2: This Wikipedia article sheds some more "light" on Kinkade.

Thomas Kinkade (born January 19, 1958 in Sacramento, California) is an American painter of realistic, bucolic, and idyllic subjects. He is most notable for the mass marketing of his work as printed reproductions and other licensed products via The Thomas Kinkade Company. He is self described as "Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light" (a trademarked phrase), and as "America's most-collected living artist".[1] It is estimated that 1 in 10 homes in the U.S. feature some form of Thomas Kinkade’s art or licensed product.[2]

He has received criticism for the extent to which he has commercialized his art -- for example, selling his prints on the QVC home shopping network. Others have written that his paintings are merely kitsch, without substance,[3] and described it as chocolate box art.[4]


Kinkade's works are sold by mail order and in dedicated retail outlets as high-quality prints, often using texturizing techniques on real canvas to make the surface of the finished prints mimic the raised surface of the original painting. Some of the prints also feature light effects that are painted onto the print surface by hand by "skilled craftsmen," touches that add to the illusion of light and the resemblance to an original work of art. Licensing with Hallmark and other corporations have made it possible for Kinkade's images to be used extensively on other merchandise such as calendars, puzzles, greeting cards, and CDs. He has also authored or been the subject of over 120 books and is the only artist to license his trademark and artwork to multiple housing developments.

Kinkade is reported to have earned $53 million for his artistic work in the period 1997 to May 2005.[11]


The Los Angeles Times report that some of Kinkade's former colleagues, employees, and even collectors of his work say that he has a long history of cursing and heckling other artists and performers. The Times further reports that he openly groped a woman's breasts at a South Bend, Indiana sales event, and mentioned his proclivity for ritual territory marking through urination.[18] Kinkade denied some of the Times's allegations, but accepted and apologized for others.[19]

In 2006 John Dandois, Media Arts Group executive, recounted a story that on one occasion ("about six years ago") Kinkade became drunk at a Siegfried and Roy magic show in Las Vegas and began shouting "Codpiece! Codpiece!" at the performers. Eventually he was calmed by his mother.[18] Dandois also said of Kinkade, "Thom would be fine, he would be drinking, and then all of a sudden, you couldn't tell where the boundary was, and then he became very incoherent, and he would start cussing and doing a lot of weird stuff."[18]

I'll leave it there.