Blogger, snarkster, and author extraordinaire Alan Vanneman reads Jed Perl in The New Republic so those of us with day jobs and intimations of mortality don't have to. [Warning: Mixed metaphor ahead!] Like a miner panning for gold, Vanneman turns up this pony after stumbling around the manure for a couple of days:
According to New Republic doubledome Jed Perl, in the midst of a tediously extended article mostly intended to let us know how smart he is, and how much he hates "Painter of Light" dude Thomas Kinkeade, Jed lets slip the fact that Tom was once busted for, yes pissing on poor Winnie, though it appears that Tom is now safely born-again and, I guess, no longer prone to stumbling around the Magic Kingdom with his fly open. Good news indeed!
Here's the passage in question from Perl, which is in a review that pooh-poohs what Perls disdains as "the love affair between the intellectuals and the trashmeisters":
One of the choicest sections in Vallance's essay is devoted to Kinkade's much discussed guerilla act at Disneyland, where he urinated on a statue of Winnie the Pooh. Vallance believes that the Los Angeles Times was unfair to Kinkade in a 2006 expose, where if I understand Vallance correctly he feels Kinkade was treated as a garden variety psycho. For Vallance—writing in a section called "The Urination Ritual"—"Pooh-pissing [is] the next step in the grand legacy of piss art"—a kind of "performance art." Vallance links Kinkade's "work" with Marcel Duchamp's decision to exhibit a urinal as a sculpture, with Jackson Pollock urinating in Peggy Guggenheim's fireplace, as well as with work by Warhol and contemporary artists Paul McCarthy, Mike Bidlo, and David Hammons. It is left to another contributor, Micki McElya, to bring Andres Serrano's Piss Christ into the discussion, explaining that "aesthetically, Kinkade shares with Serrano a reliance on the manipulation of light effects and the use of light as symbolic of God's presence and the individual's potential for salvation."
Writing in 2000, amid a different sort of pissing match which was mostly directed at Kinkade's marketing ploys, the great Charles Paul Freund put the appeal of the self-styled "Artist of Light" in a different perspective:
From the sheet-wrapped Bohemiens of post-revolutionary Paris to the strategically furnished art studios of fin de siècle modernists to the boho-dancing abstract expressionists of mid-century, the art world of the past 200 years has relied rather heavily on poses. But [art mag] Flak's suggestion that Kinkade is a threat to art is as overwrought as [his marketing corporation] MAGI's claim that it has invented a new art paradigm. Kinkade is neither a paradigm nor a "process come to fruition"; he's a niche.
Kinkade is about subculture, specifically the sizable but relatively underserved Christian subculture. Indeed, a reported 80 percent of Kinkade's customers have never before owned an artifact they considered to be art. The Kinkade phenomenon thus joins with such genres as slickly produced religious pop music, specialized cable programming, and popular religious fiction in addressing this subculture's needs. Whether this audience in fact owns art after putting down its money for The Mountains Declare His Glory may well be a subject of heated debate for Flak's audience. But it's a moot point for Kinkade's.