Dark Times Befall 'Painter Of Light' Thomas Kinkade Kinkade's familiar, cozy artwork adorns countless calendars and coffee mugs -- but his company is facing serious financial and legal trouble. The artist, who says the light streaming through his paintings is the light of Jesus, has been accused of fraud and was arrested for a DUI in June.
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Dark Times Befall 'Painter Of Light' Thomas Kinkade

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Dark Times Befall 'Painter Of Light' Thomas Kinkade

Dark Times Befall 'Painter Of Light' Thomas Kinkade

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RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

Alex Schmidt reports that Kinkade's business troubles haven't hurt his sales.

ALEX SCHMIDT: A Thomas Kinkade can make you feel like you're strolling down a cobblestone path, to a cozy cottage with smoke puffing out the chimney.

ANNIE KAYNE: When I look at a Thomas Kinkade picture, I get a warm, soft, cozy feeling like I want to go into wherever that is and be part of it.

SCHMIDT: Annie Kayne was window shopping outside a gallery in Irvine, California, that carries Thomas Kinkade. She's a particular fan of his winter scenes, which feature perfect blankets of snow over peaceful gardens - and of course snow covered cottages lit from within.

AMI DAVIS: Well, I think it harkens back to an imagined past, before cities, before crowds, before traffic, before the stresses of everyday life.

SCHMIDT: UCLA'S Ami Davis wrote her masters thesis on Kinkade.

DAVIS: I've heard of, you know, almost quasi-religious experiences with some of these paintings.

SCHMIDT: Terry Sheppard was a longtime colleague of Kinkade's, and testified in lawsuits gallery owners brought against the artist.

TERRY SHEPPARD: It's very disappointing when any individual professes a worldview that's about peace, love, joy, family, and then ends up taking a position that is contradictory.

SCHMIDT: To add to the artist's troubles, earlier this year, Kinkade was arrested for a DUI, and his mug shot made its way around the Internet. Still, he continues to sell.

MARTY BROWN: I've been carrying Thomas Kinkade for over 22 years.

SCHMIDT: Marty Brown is co-owner of the Village Gallery in Irvine.

BROWN: And the fact that he's been selling with such regularity for such a long time is unprecedented.

SCHMIDT: Company COO Frank Turrell.

FRANK TURRELL: What's compelling about this brand is, over the course of time, about 25 million people have purchased some kind of Kinkade product. That's an incredible footprint.

SCHMIDT: Turrell says the company has changed.

TURRELL: There's an enormous amount of demand out there for Tom's products.

SCHMIDT: New plans entail building partnerships with the likes of Disney and Warner Brothers, and strengthening direct to consumer avenues, like QVC. Not that any of it matters to a longtime fan like Annie Kayne.

KAYNE: This is the first I've heard that he's going bankrupt. And I don't look upon his paintings any different. I won't.

SCHMIDT: For NPR News, I'm Alex Schmidt.

MONTAGNE: And this is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

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