KENNEWICK -- The unexpected death last week of the self-described "Painter of Light" Thomas Kinkade had a significant effect on galleries across the country, including in the Tri-Cities.
The Thomas Kinkade Gallery in downtown Kennewick drew a record number of visitors after the news of his death was announced Friday night.
"Saturday we were slammed," said Catherine Riddle, manager of the gallery at 19 N. Cascade St. "We sold a little bit of everything of his that day, even some of his large pieces."
Lots of phone calls continued Monday and Tuesday inquiring about various artwork, and Riddle said when she talked to Kinkade's production line factory in Morgan Hill, Calif., they too were inundated with orders from galleries across the country.
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Kinkade, 54, died Friday at his home in the San Francisco Bay area, apparently from natural causes, The Associated Press reported.
Riddle said the Tri-City gallery recently received Kinkade's latest release, Gazebo of Prayer, two weeks ago.
Though his art was not considered unique by art critics, it is believed to be among the most collected in the United States.
The Tri-City gallery, owned by Anne and Carlos Craff of Kennewick, is a silver signature gallery, which means the store is licensed to carry and sell the painter's limited edition pieces, Riddle said.
The gallery carries a wide range of Kinkade's art, which sells from $55 to several thousand dollars, including seascapes, gardens, churches and cottages. It also carries his Disney line. The Disney series of paintings feature scenes unique to Disney's characters.
The Kennewick gallery has many of the Disney paintings hanging throughout the store and also a room dedicated to the Disney experience, Riddle said.
In the small room are a half dozen large paintings and sitting on a nearby table are several magnifiers for customers to borrow.
"Thomas had a unique way of using light in his paintings," Riddle said.
But he also had a playful side because each of the paintings has one or two tiny dots of color strategically placed on the canvas where, using the magnifier, the viewer can see a intricately detailed painting of a Disney character, from Pinocchio to Tinker Bell.
Riddle also says the gallery has no plans to raise the price of its Kinkade artwork. "We won't do that unless the factory calls us and tells us the prices are increasing," she said.
-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org