Q. What happened to the swan who would terrorize anyone brave enough to approach the small lake at Valhalla Gardens of Memory in Belleville? I recently took my out-of-town nephews there to show them the swans and there was only one, lonely swan. It’s sad to think of him/her being without a mate.
— Kim Keeney, of Millstadt
A. Alas, that cantankerous old bird wound up performing its swan song about four months ago shortly after finding a comfortable resting spot underneath a parked car.
“The driver of the car did didn’t know the swan was there,” Ed Allen, the cemetery’s general manager, told me. “So the driver got in, pulled away and injured the swan. We took it to the vet, but the vet said there was nothing they could do, so they euthanized the swan.”
Like you, Allen and others on the Valhalla staff soon were concerned about the psychological well-being of the remaining swan. After spending so much time with its partner in that tranquil setting, perhaps the remaining bird would grieve itself to death, they feared.
Apparently, however, this is a perfect example of anthropormorphism — trying to attribute our human emotions to the bird. As it turns out, an area waterfowl breeder furnished Valhalla with two swans, but not the same two swans all the time — different swans had been rotated in and out over the years, Allen said. When that second bird met its unfortunate demise, there was a he and a she (Allen still doesn’t know which was which), but Allen was told they had never mated and were not partners for life.
“We were concerned, too, because we always heard that they needed a mate,” Allen said. “But (the breeder) said not really. As long as there is other waterfowl in the pond — and we have ducks in there and we have geese in there — this other swan will be fine.”
A second may be added again in the future, but right now Allen is assured that it’s actually better the remaining swan goes solo for a while.
“With the death of the other swan, the owner said we need to give this one a time of adjustment before we introduce another into that pond.”
Q. We purchased a Thomas Kinkade painting back when there was a gallery of his work in Belleville. The painting is titled “Lakeside Hideaway” and has a 3/8 -inch duck painted in gold in the lower left-hand corner right above his signature. We noticed some of the other paintings had gold Mickey Mouse heads, lighthouses, etc. We’ve always been curious about these. Can you explain?
— Jim, of Belleville
A. Allow me to shed some light on the late painter of light’s business model: Simply put, not all of Kinkade’s paintings were created equally — not even necessarily if, say, you and your brother owned the same title. For each individual work, he would produce up to seven different editions that could differ in quantity, features and price.
At the bottom of Kinkade’s painting hierarchy is the SN edition — the “Standard Numbered.” These were available to all authorized canvas dealers and were the least expensive. The number of prints would depend on each painting, but this would always be the largest edition in terms of quantity.
The next step up would be the AP edition — the Artist Proof, which was limited to 20 percent of the SN run. So, if there were 10,000 standards, there would be only 2,000 of these. Each one would have the letters AP applied during the numbering process along with a backstamp identifying it as an Artist Proof.
Your painting is a GP — a Gallery Proof. These prints were limited to 35 percent of the SN release and were restricted for exclusive distribution through the Signature Galleries and Thomas Kinkade Corporate Galleries like the one we had at East Main and High streets. They also contain a singular identifiable mark — that gold foil remarque stamped onto the image.
“That gold emblem is something that has to do with something that’s within that painting,” a spokeswoman at the Thomas Kinkade Co. in Morgan Hill, Calif., told me. “Like some might have a Mickey, some might have a duck, a horse, et cetera, but it’s only the GP editions that have those little gold emblems.”
For those who wanted a more exclusive copy, there were four editions above GP, according to Capitola Gallery in Capitola, Calif. — a Publisher Proof, Renaissance Edition, Studio Proof and, at the top of the line, the Master Edition, which is extensively hand-highlighted by the artist, has the artist’s thumbprint, is hand-signed in metallic ink and has a “highly detailed pencil remarque.” These were limited to between 1 and 20 pieces of each work.
If you’re interested in price differences, I checked your beautiful painting, which is still available at www.thomaskinkade.com.
“This tranquil lake, nestled in the shadows of a towering mountain with a cozy cabin snugly lit for evening, is certainly my idea of life at its best – the perfect hideaway for heart and soul,” Kinkade gushed.
A 12-by-16 version of this piece of tranquility can be hanging in your home for $560 for an SN, $710 for an AP or GP and $760 for a PP. By the way, some estimate that you can find a copy of a Kinkade painting in one out of every 20 American homes.
Who is usually credited for building the first roller coaster in the United States?
Answer to Tuesday’s trivia: When Adolf Hitler wanted to see whether his cyanide capsules were strong enough to kill him, he reportedly tried them first on his favorite dog, Blondi, a German shepherd that he had received as a gift in 1941. The dog died. After Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide on April 30, 1945, Blondi’s pups and Braun’s two dogs were shot.
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 618-239-2465.