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Late Art Icon Thomas Kinkade Once Visited Wyandotte

The 54-year-old died Friday at his home in Los Gatos, CA, of what appeared to be natural causes.

To many art lovers, internationally renowned artist Thomas Kinkade was the epitome of success.

To many entrenched in the art establishment, he was a sellout who gave up his artistic creativity in order to mass-produce anything that would bring in money.

To all who studied his business, however, there was little doubt that he was successful and left an impact on the world through his paintings that focused on landscapes, cottages and churches.

Kinkade, 54, died Friday at his home in Los Gatos, CA, of what appeared to be natural causes, family spokesman David Satterfield said.

The self-described "Painter of Light” claimed to be one of the nation's most collected artists. His work brought in more than $100 million a year in sales and was said to grace the walls of 10 million homes in the United States.

Before Kinkade's Media Arts Group went private in the middle of the past decade, the company took in $32 million per quarter from 4,500 dealers across the country, according to the Mercury News. The cost of his paintings ranges from hundreds of dollars to more than $10,000.

One of those dealers used to be located in Wyandotte. A franchise gallery that sold only Kinkade pieces was set up at 3111 Biddle, just down from

Patt Slack, owner of , said the Kinkade gallery was in Wyandotte for about six years, from the mid to late 1990s. In the late '90s, Slack said, Kinkade came to Wyandotte and hosted an event at She attended the gathering.

“He gave a little talk and his family was with him,” Slack recalls. “He didn’t sign things, but there were things available for purchase. … At that point, he really had nothing to do with his career. It was just a production line.”

Slack, who used to sell Kinkade’s work in her gallery, said she knew him personally before he became popular, which she said drastically changed him.

“He was really looked down upon by the fine art world because of the mass production of his artwork … and the overproduction that caused a lot of franchise owners to not be able to run their business,” Slack said. “In the art world, there is a lot of controversy about that.”

Kinkade made no excuses for the volume of his work, saying his goal is merely to give people what they want and “to make people happy."

“I try to create paintings that are a window for the imagination,” Kinkade is quoted as saying on his website. “If people look at my work and are reminded of the way things once were or perhaps the way they could be, then I've done my job."

Diana Jackson April 10, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Nate, Sue,Chad you are all so right.
r d charette April 11, 2012 at 12:47 AM
Kincaids art is no mor a sell out than a copied DaVinci in my opinion a copied Mona Lisa is no less beautiful if it is a copy it is only something a smuck like me can afford and enjoy I visited the gallery in Wyandotte once, just once, the snobs that were running it ignored me I guess they were or the opinion that as long as I couldn't shop lift from them that I who probably looked like I had no money to speak that I was of no interest, Actually there was a print that I would have bought as it was I didn't bother to go back again.
r d charette April 11, 2012 at 12:48 AM
I have been=====scuse me? art?
Pete April 11, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Thomas Kinkade, the King of Kitsch. I wonder what will be said of his work 100 years from now when some hopeful drags one of his works to The Antique Roadshow.
Diana Jackson April 11, 2012 at 01:34 PM
@Pete....That isn't something that would keep me awake at night.....

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