For the record, I’m not a snob. I don’t think the tastes and values of middle America (whatever that means) are a punchline, and I don’t dismiss anything just because it’s popular. Many years ago, when I saw a landscape by the ubiquitous Thomas Kinkade I concluded that it wasn’t really my thing, although I recognized the obvious talent. Also, I have an appreciation for somebody who can humbly dedicate himself to a particular craft. But shortly after, when I found about Kinkade comparing himself favorably with Monet, and the pseudo-Messianic sense of mission, and the brazenly manipulative marketing scheme, I thought – for real? This Godzilla full of clichés is clamoring for a retrospective at the Met during his lifetime? That’s fair game for abuse. He might be right about the failings of modernity, but he’s totally wrong about his own work.
The Kinkade empire has caved in on itself during the past few years, and yeah – it’s probably bad form to kick a guy when he’s down. Nonetheless, I saw the “Thomas Kinkade: Painter of Light” 2012 calendar while at Barnes & Noble last December, and decided that it would be great fun to do a monthly review, especially if I got to make a fancy title for myself like the “Reviewer of Light.” The Awl took me up on it. There you can see the April version and the previous months, and return for the rest.