Thomas Kinkade et al.

Thomas Kinkade’s early works were quite good. He was, after all quite skilled at his craft. His family donated much of his early pieces to the Crocker. The Crocker has no idea what to do with them. Many artists fall into this trap.                                                                                                                                       Pascal Cucaro was among them. His hallmark work was of a skinny guy in a top hat, waiting at the top of one of San Francisco’s long downward sweeping hill streets, with a bunch of flowers held behind his back as if in wait to surprise his date for the night. Curcaro would crank out many such pieces, choose the ones he felt were of high quality, sign them, then give the discards to his assistant for disposal. The assistant would then forge Curcaro’s signature and peddle them down to tourist trap galleries on Fisherman’s Wharf.

Then there were the works of Walter Keane, most famous for painting sad children with huge eyes. As it turns out, the paintings were done by his wife, Margaret Keane, with Walter taking all the credit. It was quite the spectacle of two hacks arguing, during the divorce, over the authenticity of such treacle.

Around that time one Kaffy Reinhardt appeared on the Art scene. She was a brief flash-in-the-pan as an artist having appeared on the Jack Parr Show showing a painting that she had done of John F. Kennedy. Kaffy never rose to the level of “hack”. However, her ouvre never rose to the level that would encourage me to purchase any of them. I offer my apologies to Michael, Sara, and Dixie (her children), if I ever indicated otherwise.

Then there was the matter of Eugene Garin.. Garin was an emigrant from Russia. My first encounter with Eugene was at Benny Barrios Gallery on “Two Street” in what is now “Historic Waterfront Sacramento”, or some such touristy description. Benny had encountered Garin in an unlikely place. Eugene Garin, while live in Bright, was employed as a janitor at Montgomery-Wards on L Street in Sacramento. He has arranged to have his paintings displayed along the basement walls leading to the area where “revolving charge accounts” were settled. This was in the days well before credit cards. His paintings, mostly rather repetitive versions of seascapes (always 24″ x 48″), sold well in that venue. Bennie Barrios discovered them, began to purchase and resell them in Barrios Gallery at a 300% mark-up. I met Eugene once. On a subsequent occasion, I met Victor Heady, Victor had had a show of his work at Barrios Gallery after his release from Vacaville Medical Facility where he had served a term on some drug related charges. Victor had spent much of his youth drawing pictures rather than paying attention in class (according to family lore). I have penned extensive writing about Victory Heady and his mentor (while in prison), Raymond Rowley King in other places. What is significant here is that Victor stated that he was opening his own gallery and frame shop. He showed interest in my ability to provide him with an address for Eugene Garin. Victor paid a visit to Garin. I had mentioned that the works that Garin was selling were highly repetitive. That, some day that condition might cause his work to be downgraded in value to that of “hack”. Victor reviewed hsi means of production of paintings. Try to imagine a system, using a pantograph or other device, that could project images of shoreline, outcroppings of rock, etc. His ability to paint “luminous waves” was a characteristic of his paintings. Victor convinced him to vary them so as to not be so repetitive. Eugene Garin eventually moved to the oceanside area near Big Sur, did well in selling his newly revitalized painting. Yet, to his end, Eugene Garin remained a hack.


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