I don't go to the mall often. It's too big, too crowded, too much a slavering pit of mediocrity. Plus I tend to get stared at a lot; maybe it's just my imagination, but sometimes I really do feel as though people are leering at me as though there's something fundamentally strange about the way I look. I realize I'm not the best-looking man out there but I also don't think there's anything so utterly odd about my appearance that it merits an intense scrutiny.
Actually, only three days ago, while at a newly-opened pub, I was informed (lectured, more like, since the diatribe went on for a good ten minutes) by a 40-something drunk woman that I looked "too serious" and needed to relax. Mind you, I was kicking back on a sofa and sipping a martini at the time, but this apparently doesn't qualify as relaxing. And not an hour later, another drunkard decided that I was Lestat, which apparently annoyed him very much. His incoherent raving was derailed by a good old-fashioned bar fight, however, and so I quickly made my exit.
Despite the fact that I had a full glass of beer left, I didn't feel like being in the middle of this scene, and besides, the only reason I had gone to the pub in the first place had departed moments before.
Yes, that reason was a certain girl. But I digress.
Anyway, recently I was motivated to go to the mall to kill an hour before an appointment. I thought I'd drop by the food court, find some coffee, and mind my own for a bit - the mall was a two-minute drive from the place I needed to be.
Unfortunately, coffee was difficult to come by. Surprisingly, few places in the food court serve coffee, and the only place that did was Gorin's, but naturally they had not bothered brewing any. So I got a bottle of water instead and proceeded to wander aimlessly about the mall without any rhyme or reason whatsoever.
Sometimes, on rare occasions, it's good to sort of people-watch. A mall is an excellent venue for this pasttime.
This particular mall has a Thomas Kinkade gallery. Having ventured to the mall very rarely, I was hithero unaware of this gallery's existance; perhaps I was unaware of it, or perhaps it is new. Regardless, I felt compelled to go in, against my better judgement.
Now, the esteemed Jin Wicked has already done an excellent job of making a mockery of Thomas Kinkade. She is, however, an artist by trade (unlike most self-proclaimed artists, she actually displays talent and gets paid in a professional capacity for her work), and therefore her rant focuses primarily on what a talentless hack Kinkade is.
I, however, being.. something other than an artist, would like to comment on some other aspects of Kinkade's work.
For those who do not know who Thomas Kinkade is, he is a painter. Specifically, he is the self-proclaimed Painter Of Light. One can almost hear the angelic cherubs singing his moniker in heavenly harmony.
Each of his paintings display the same general tone. A sprawling vista, usually involving a cottage or a house, where colors are distorted in a manner that can only be described as "inane", and where windows and light sources glow with the heat of a thousand suns.
To see what I'm talking about, go read Jin's rant. There's pictures.
Now, the overwhelming triteness of his paintings is bad enough, but to further lower my opinion of the man and his "art" it's necessary to know the process behind his mass-produced drivel.
Kinkade produces maybe 12 paintings a year, none of which are actually sold. To purchase one would cost in excess of half a million dollars - not because of the capitalistic dictum of supply and demand, but because he simply won't let go of an original for less than that - and that's when the original is even available, which is a rare occasion indeed. No, instead, the paintings are lithographed en masse and shipped out to Thomas Kinkade Gallery locations around the country - small, dreary, dark booths in malls with bright spotlights strategically placed to bring out the psuedo-illuminatory quality of the painting. Well, the lithograph, anyway.
Did I mention that the lithograph itself costs thousands of dollars? The highest price I saw was fifteen grand, though I didn't look at the prices too carefully.
Think about that for a moment. Fifteen thousand dollars for a copy of a painting that depicts the most inane subject matter ever conceived of.
Mr Kinkade has a harem of official "painters of light" that go around to these galleries and sign the lithographs. That's right. The damn thing has a forged signature on it, but somehow this is accepted by the soccer-mom set because the signatory was approved to forge the signature by Mr Kinkade himself. Or maybe just someone who knows Kinkade.
If you're very lucky, one of Mr Kinkade's lackeys will, in addition to signing the litho for you, put real live paint on it, too! He or she will highlight or touch up some of the evocatively glowing windows and streetlamps with a bit of cheap white paint, and when it's all said and done, not a difference can be noticed.
Except in the price tag, of course.
Fans of Kinkade's work can also appease themselves with endless amounts of trinkets, jigsaw puzzles, refridgerator magnets, and other bits of consumery-goodness - up to and including houses in an affluent and Disneyesque area designed to emulate the overall feel of Kinkade's art.
While pretending to appraise the merits of the prints on the wall in this mall gallery (and being quietly ignored by the woman who worked there, who was busy staring at a screensaver of Christmas ornaments of all things), the obvious conclusion occured to me: Kinkade is a one-trick pony of the worst kind. I'll admit that seeing one of his paintings is mildly interesting.. the first time. After that, it's like listening to Johnny One-Note play the kazoo. It grates and erodes at the nerves.
Exiting the gallery the woman finally decided to pay attention to me, possibly to ascertain why a 23 year old spiky-haired lunatic would be in a Thomas Kinkade gallery.
"Wonderful, aren't they?" she queried.
"He's the Painter of Light," I mustered, and left it at that.