“But it did not endear Kinkade with the art establishment, who criticized him for appearing to appeal to the widest possible audience.”
Heaven forbid somebody with talent tries to do something that the rest of us like.Now for the record, I know he had a problem with alcohol, had some financial setbacks, and his wife left him two years ago. But I am not interested in that for the purpose of our discussion here today. I just want to talk about art. And society. And the verbal flatulence of the Illuminati that seems prevalent in this man’s death.
Back in my newspaper reporter days I had the opportunity to cover hundreds of arts-related stories. I’ve even been known to make certain classical piano competition organizers do a double-take when I (standing there in J. B. Dillon cowboy boots, pressed jeans, and a black leather vest) made observations like, “…I particularly liked his interpretation of Rachmaninoff’s second concerto and was was immediately drawn by the way he enhanced the opening chords with the subtle accelerando, then proceeded with the remainder of the movement at a more decelerated pace…”
I fact, as I write this I am listening to Christopher Parkening playing Recuerdos de la Alhambra. A beautiful piece for classical guitar written by Spanish composer Francisco Tarrega in 1896. And the next song on the playlist? Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s Boogie Bumper.
I, like many of you, have have varied tastes. I like a lot of different things. And while I can talk intelligently about various aspects of classical music, modern art, and literary fiction, they are not my favorites. My tastes are not that refined. I like funk music. Western Swing. Big Band. Swing. Bluegrass. Oldies rock. And my taste in art runs more to cartoon art, Thomas Kinkade, Norman Rockwell, Gahan Wilson, and astronaut Alan Bean. I like James Patterson, Charles L. Grant, Dean Koontz, Jonathan Kellerman, Mickey Spillane, John D. MacDonald, John Sandford, Jefferson Bass, and Lester Dent.
So, back to the reporter days, on one particular afternoon I had the job of covering the new exhibit by a world renowned artist opening in town. I will not name the artist not the venue. I will say it was not a local artist (so they will know I’m not talking about them). when I returned from the opening the city editor asked how it went.
“Phillip, I could have done what he did. And I have no artistic talent beyond being able to draw a straight line with a sharp pencil and a ruler.”
But the art world hailed him as a genius. I didn’t get it then, and I don’t get it now. What I DID get, however, was his willingness to talk with anyone (through an interpreter) about his art. His willingness to explain it. To make it accessible. I still see his work on occasion and I still don’t like it.
But I respect him as an artist and I respect him for his willingness to try to make his vision understandable instead of wrapping himself in a cloak of superiority and “allowing” us Philistines to walk through his world.
So when I see a quote like the one in The Washington Post, I can’t help but ask what’s wrong with wanting to use your talent to make something accessible to the rest of us. Those of us who prefer Diet Pepsi over Iskilde bottled water from Denmark or would rather have a hot dog than
more than 100 million people have read at least one James Patterson book. And a fellow by the name of Stephen King has more than 300,000,000 books in print.