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Art-o-mat

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Art-o-mat creator Clark Whittington helps an art lover make a purchase.

Utah Arts & Museums introduces Utah’s first Art-o-mat, a cigarette vending machine that has been transformed to sell small pieces of art. Purchased in April 2014, this Art-o-mat is the creation of Artists in Cellophane (AIC), an organization based in North Carolina that encourages “art consumption by combining the worlds of art and commerce in an innovative form.” AIC believes art should be progressive, yet personal and approachable.

There are currently 100 active machines in various locations around the country. Utah Arts & Museum’s model will be housed primarily at the Rio Gallery in the Rio Grande Depot for 12 months while it’s under an exclusivity contract. After that, it will be leased to other organizations in Utah on a first-come, first-served basis.

At the Art-o-mat’s Utah debut at the Mountain West Arts Conference, 46 conference-goers fed the machine a five-dollar bill for a cigarette box-sized work of art. Utah’s machine holds work by 11 artists. Each artist includes a brief description of what’s inside, such as “earrings with a twist” or “alcohol ink painting,” and the works are as varied as you might imagine: tiny robots with movable arms and legs, barcode flip books, painted ceramic tiles, earrings, small paintings, and more.

There are approximately 400 contributing artists from 10 countries currently involved in the Art-o-mat project, and AIC says it is always searching for fresh work. Artists are asked to submit their art for review, and if they’re chosen, Art-o-mat pays them to create work that will then be distributed to machines all over the country. Each piece includes a small paper with contact information and details about the artist. Utah Arts & Museums hopes Utah artists will participate so that local talent can be represented in the project.

To learn more about Art-o-mat, visit www.artomat.org.