Artist Thomas Kinkade passed away late Friday, officials said.Kinkade, also known as the painter of light, played a major part in the Indianapolis 500 last year.He created the artwork for the program cover celebrating the races 100th anniversary and the centennial poster.The Thomas Kinkade Gallery in Zionsville was busy on Saturday after art enthusiasts learned of his death.Gallery owner Barbara Jennings said she expects to continue to carry reproductions of Kinkades work."I think we have lost a genius. We've lost someone who has impacted the art world like no other artist had before, similar to the way Norman Rockwell came to everyone, not just to the wealthy art connoisseur, Jennings said.Indianapolis Motor Speedway spokesman Tom Surber said Kinkade would be greatly missed."It's a very sad day. Mr. Kinkade did a number of art works about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He was a fan of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and he helped promote the race through his magnificent work, Surber said.Kinkades family said he died of natural causes in his California home. He was 54.