The Carmel Zone

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The Thomas Kinkade Experience

If Carmel (CA) didn’t exist you couldn’t invent it.

The hyperreality of a Disneyland experience is hard-pushed to match a walk down Carmel’s main thoroughfare. Gingerbread cottages and cutesy boutiques selling everything you don’t know you need or want, but still you fall for it all.

I’m ashamed to own up to buying a green dog collar and matching leash decorated with squirrels. The star of Life’s A Bitch is never far from my thoughts on holiday, and I just know she’s gonna love the squirrel motif since squirrels are never far from her thoughts.

Wandering along marvelling at it all, I can’t tell you how excited I then was to spot something I’ve long wanted to see for real: a Thomas Kinkade product showcase experience.

I first read about Thomas Kinkade’s art in a book about contemporary artists of the conceptual (as opposed to simply living) kind. It was odd to read about him in this context, because as one glance at the website will clearly show, his painting style is not what you would normally associate with contemporary art.

At first sight, that is. On closer examination, it’s equally clear that he was every bit Damien Hirst’s equal when it comes to marketing, promotion and facilitation of the consumption of Art Products. I read somewhere that one in three (or maybe one in five) American households possesses a Kinkade artwork. As the website puts it:

With the largest canvas oil paintings and limited edition paper print inventory in the world, you are sure to find what you are looking for. If you are seeking the perfect gift for a loved one or yourself, we have a huge selection of open edition artwork and collectibles such as puzzles, drink coasters, tapestries, night lights and hundreds of Christmas collectibles including snowmen, Santa, ornaments, angels, trees and more.

And all of this was in Carmel. No better place, I reckon. We Kempners spent quite a few minutes marvelling at it all, and particularly liked the Disney range of images.

The saleswoman was very polite and helpful and we established we could have a limited edition oil painting facsimile large enough to dominate our living room for just $6,000. But having busted the bank for a squirrel patterned dog collar and leash, we passed on this investment opportunity. And what an investment opportunity it was: Thomas Kinkade sadly passed away in April 2012. At least his legacy is apparent in one in three American homes for many years to come.

And to finish today, just a few more Carmel shots…

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The ridiculous Diggety Dog Boutique

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Moley attractions for Jess

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On The Beach at Carmel

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Carmel Cafe

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