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Painter Thomas Kinkade arrested near Carmel on suspicion of DUI

June 16, 2010 | 10:46 am

KinkadeMugThe painter Thomas Kinkade, whose mass-produced landscapes have made him one of the most-collected artists in America, has been arrested on suspicion of drunk driving.

Kinkade, 52, was pulled over outside Carmel on Friday night because his 2006 Mercedes-Benz didn't have a front license plate, said California Highway Patrol Officer Robert Lehman.

The artist smelled of alcohol, Lehman said, and he was arrested after he failed a field sobriety test. Kinkade was released from jail the next day after posting bail.

His arrest came less than two weeks after one of his companies filed for bankruptcy protection. The Chapter 11 petition was filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in San Jose in the name of Kinkade's production company, Pacific Metro of Morgan Hill, Calif.

The Placerville-born painter has spun a lucrative career since his humble beginnings selling paintings in supermarket parking lots.

A "born-again" Christian whose incandescent paintings of Americana are laden with religious themes, Kinkade's work has been praised as inspirational by some and dismissed as kitsch by art critics.

A 2006 Los Angeles Times investigation into Kinkade called into question his business practices and suggested his personal behavior belied the wholesome image on which he had built his empire. Kinkade denied those claims.

-- Kate Linthicum

Photo: Thomas Kinkade. Credit: Associated Press