Wednesday, November 25, 2009

You can hang it on your wall

There was an interesting article in the paper this morning. Recently, a banker here in Raleigh was convicted in a ponzi scheme. He and his family have disappeared, and last week, all of his belongings were auctioned off to recoup some of the money he stole.

A Mercedes convertible went for around $107,000, and a diamond wedding ring was sold for around $170,000. There were several "big name" handbags that sold for a couple thousand each, and some designer shoes that seemed to have been in my size. Oh, darn.

The article in the paper this morning focused in on the "artwork" that was sold though. To be specific, the Thomas Kinkade "paintings" auctioned off to the highest sucker. I mean bidder.

One of the paintings was sold for $15,500. Wise, the rogue businessman, paid $85,000 for it originally. Apparently, it was so expensive because Kinkade himself painted it. Which is such an absurd thing to say in the first place. It's hard to even make a joke about it because it's so stupid. A painting is worth more because the painter actually painted it. That's hilarious.

The woman in charge of fine art at the auction house had this to say,

"Thomas Kinkade paints pictures that are very pleasing and are accessible to a large number of people. He's painting decorative pictures; you can hang them on your wall."

Again, it's hard to turn that into a joke. It's so funny on it's own. "You can hang them on your wall." That's one of the benefits of a Thomas Kinkade painting. How can you not snicker at that?

The article also goes on to say that Kinkade "offers a touchstone for art buyers who want security." I'm kind of wondering though, in an auction where people were willing to pay $2500 for a used Louis Vuitton handbag, where is the security in an $85,000 painting selling for $15,500?

It doesn't really matter. The paintings are complete crap, and Thomas Kinkade is a crook. His company sold paintings to gallery owners who were required to sell them for a minimum retail price while the company, and even Kinkade himself, undercut those prices on cable TV. The gallery owners sued and won.

My father-in-law likes to buy original artwork. It is one of his endearing qualities. He also likes for it to be from local artists. He's a cool Papa. His tastes vary from mine, and that is alright. Sitting in my living room one day, he looks up at "Bird Tropolis", by Anna Podris, and says, "Well, that's pretty, and I know you like it, but I like scenes. You know, paintings of scenes." I told him that technically, it was a scene, a cityscape, if you will, but he wasn't buying it. That's totally fine. There's a wide span between people with different tastes and those with no taste.

Of course, I think if Thomas Kinkade makes you happy, and you don't know any better, then by all means, hang him or someone who paints what he tells them to paint on your wall. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all. What grabbed me about this story is that this banker was obviously attempting to "invest" in art by purchasing Thomas Kinkade paintings. Which is ridiculous.

I admit, one of the reasons I saved my pennies to buy Anna's work is because a gallery owner who knew that I already liked it told me that she was the Raleigh artist with the greatest potential for investment. I liked that little bit of information. Granted, if you tried to take one of my paintings from me now, I would never sell them for any amount. I love them, which is the real reason to buy original artwork.

We also have a Jason Craighead and a Bob Rankin. Kevin and I both loved the Craighead at the exact moment we saw it, and quite frankly, the Rankin just went nicely in our guest bathroom. There is also one of Keith Norval's owls upstairs by Lovely's room. Some other artists grace our walls, but from out of state.

I can't tell you if anything we've purchased will go up in value monetarily or not. What I can tell you is this:

  • I know who painted it.
  • I like who painted it.
  • The money we paid for it stayed in our community.
  • The money we paid for it went to support a real artist.
  • We like the work.
  • We intend on teaching our children that artists, like musicians, deserve to be paid well for good original work.
All of which is in direct contrast to the painter of light. Who makes me shudder.