Friday, April 25, 2014

" Art-o-mat® - The original art vending machines"


Lee planed a fun pit stop for us last month as we made our way to the annual
Kansas State Button Society convention in Salina, KS.

Lee was intrigued by a website named

What is Art-o-mat®?
It is a company that has refurbished retired cigarette vending machines and
converted them to dispense vend art.  

There are about 100 machines in the USA and Canada with 400 or so contributing artists, representing 10 or more countries.  Most are in in museums and art galleries.
Oddly enough, a few stores are housed in unusual places such Boynton Health Services at the University of Minnesota, a Whole Foods Market in Des Moines, IA and The Storm Crow Tavern in Vancouver, Canada.

We were fortunate an Art-o-mat® was on our route to the convention - at the Mulvane Art Museum on the campus of Washburn University in Topeka, KS.

These machines are wonderfully restored and instead on dispensing a nasty pack of cigarettes, you put in your $5.00 token, select your artist, pull hard on the knob, and down drops
your boxed art piece.    

Now instead of once cigarette labels there are artist labels

Lee & Venita reviewing the artist choices

Ooh, I want this one!

It dropped...here it comes!

What a fun excursion!

In talking with one of the Mulvane Art Museum curators, we learned Art-o-mat® has followers that seek to visit every machine location and some followers that seek specific artists to collect.

Each piece of art must fit within this box (size of 1930-1940s pack of cigarettes), so it will properly dispense from the machine.  Some artist include a label on their box, while others may scroll their name and a design on their box.  We discovered that although this box label image shows a fish collage art, the inside artwork was a photo collage of a pansy flower.  So, the outside label may only represent the artist work, but not necessarily what is inside the box...sort of like 
grab bags from our childhood.







My final two art pieces were in plain boxes


So, have you visited an Art-o-mat®?  
If so, please share a comment and let us know which location and what artwork you purchased.

2 comments:

  1. What a neat idea! I loved learning about the Art-O-Mat, Tami!

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  2. Thanks, Tami! Vince & I made a trip to the St. Louis one also! It was a smaller vending maching-- only one row of choices; but still cool.

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