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  • Thomas Kinkade: “Painter of Light”
  • Jonathan Holden (bio)

Thomas Kinkade: “Painter of Light”

bet a million dollars that a major museum would hold a Kinkade retrospective in his lifetime. So when I read in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram “Painter of Light” has brought dark days to some art dealers,” that 20 other Kinkade dealers across the country have filed lawsuits, his art is “hysterically incompetent,” I thought “Poetic Justice.”

“Hysterically”: We remember Freud— the etymology from “Hyster” to “Hister”— which was Latin for “womb.” “Incompetent?” Not quite. Slick? Yes. I guess it’s a matter of taste or breeding. How do you prove such a charge with words? Where is Ezra Pound. We need him. For who are the true painters of “light”? Monet. Wyeth. Hopper. [End Page 46] Especially Hopper (student of Paul Valéry, the poets’ favorite). Thomas Kinkade has no taste. Just listen:

The fact iswe have a grassroots movementemerging in my art and in the country,and there’s ten million people out herethat if I give the word will go outand picket any museum I want them toI won’t give the word, but they’re dyingto have an art of dignity within our culture

“An art of dignity”? I think of Cantata 106 by Johann Sebastian Bach my father’s favorite (when he was dying), of the way he treads gravely as the singers are treading toward in the most complete etymological sense of the great verb Weorthan.

To weorthan.

They are treading toward Paradise, our end. [End Page 47]

Jonathan Holden

Jonathan Holden was the first poet laureate of the state of Kansas. His work has recently appeared in Black Warrior Review and Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry column. His memoir, Mama’s Boys: A Double Life, was recently published by Lewis-Clark Press.