It is called "Doubting Thomas," and was painted by a young artist named Ben Steele. I found it on Anneke Majors' latest post on AMV. It captures my attitude toward Thomas Kinkade perfectly. I used to be ambivalent about Thomas Kinkade. He was just something that I would walk past in the mall. He was the Sunglass Hut of the trailer park art world---Obnoxious, overpriced, and of poor quality, but easily ignored. But then this painting of the Twin Towers changed my mind.
Now I really dislike him. What is this flagpole actually affixed to, anyway? A bouy? And thanks for reminding us that the New York Skyline has an empty space now, because that wasn't obvious or repeated ad nauseum for several years after 9/11. To be fair, Kinkade is hardly the only one, but he's a representative of that element of our society that plays off of tragedy and loss to sell it's low-brow kitsch. And in the process of profiteering from tragedy, it encourages pride rather than patriotism---a clannish, self-righteous, priestly sort of pride.
But his art itself, regardless of his profiteering, reminds me also of Greg Olsen. I dislike Olsen's painting a fair bit less than Kinkade's---perhaps because Olsen seems, for some reason, to be more sincere. His art is kitschy and artificial, and he uses religious channels to market it (which annoys me, but is probably a subject for another post), but at least he doesn't have an army of minions who churn it out to give it the false appearance of hand-painted-ness, and another army of minions who market it in those mall kiosks. And at least he hasn't given himself such a presumptuous moniker as the self-dubbed "painter of light."
But back to Steele's visual indictment of Kinkade. I love the way the figure in the painting is extending his finger, like the ancient apostle. But instead of a confirmation of faith, this one is a confirmation that his doubts are justified. I also love the way the other guy is pulling his hand away, as if to say, "just let it go." I'm not sure if these guys are supposed to be renaissance masters or apostles, but the aura of authority and ancient wisdom is there either way. I also love the way the background is drab and dour, but more complex and interesting than the storybook land of artificial light inside the frame. Your eye goes not to the horrifically glowing cottage, but to the triumvirate of ancient heads. Very cool.