What is an Art-o-mat? Art-o-mat machines are retired cigarette vending machines that have been converted to sell art. And just what exactly do you get from an Art-o-mat? The experience of pulling the knob alone is quite a thrill, but you also walk away with an original work of art. What an easy way to become an art collector!
Art-o-mat was conceived in 1997 when North Carolina artist Clark Whittington wanted a clever way to showcase his own art. His idea, which he sees as “long-term art installations,” has now grown to nearly 100 machines throughout the country, featuring 400 contributing artists from 10 different countries. All works are original and come in packages roughly the size of a cigarette box. The tiny works range from paintings, bronzes, and photography to jewelry, fabric art, fused glass, and more. It’s innovative contemporary art from a rescued and refurbished vending machine…all for only five dollars!
The YAM’s Art-o-mat was originally at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles and was the first machine west of the Mississippi. It was restored for the YAM in 2012 and has delighted museum patrons ever since!