Once a cigarette machine, Art-o-mat at CU now distributes art – Boulder Daily Camera


Remember when buying a pack of cigarettes was as easy as $ 1, $ 2, $ 3 bills slipped into a vending machine? Perhaps inexperienced youth or judicious lung maintenance weighs on this vintage memory.

Buying a pack of cigarettes was once as easy as exchanging coins for Snickers or Cheetos, until a federal ban in 2010.

It was then that an artist from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, thought it would be cool to repurpose a retired cigarette machine and sell his art. Clark Whittington’s success in mounting black and white photographs on blocks and selling them for $ 1 in the late 1990s turned into the creation of 90 recycled vintage machines, called Art-o-mats, which distribute original works of art by more than 400 participating artists.

In March, the Museum of Natural History at the University of Colorado unveiled its Art-o-mat machine, curated by the museum’s visitor services manager, Samantha Eads. The machine distributes craft art for $ 5, with the proceeds supporting CU’s graduate program in Museum and Field Studies.

“Smoking is bad for you. But turning a vintage cigarette machine into an art dispenser is good for you,” said Suzanne Balog, the museum’s events and communications specialist. “We are a small museum on campus and we’re always trying to attract the student body, so we thought maybe this would be a fun, retro way to invite students to come over, to experiment a bit and maybe at some level even learn something about the way life was in ancient times.

The Art-o-mat works exactly like this old-fashioned cigarette machine: insert money, pull on the rod to reveal a work of art (which is mounted on a block of wood resembling the dimensions of ‘a pack of cigarettes) and collect the masterpiece.

“The eclectic mix of artistic offerings and its retro feel pair well with the cozy ambience the museum projects,” Eads said in a press release. “CU students were particularly charmed by the offers and those who remember its original purpose laugh at the novelty of the now-extinct cigarette machine.”

The Art-o-mat, which is located behind the museum’s gift shop, extends the vintage vibe of the student lounge and exhibition space, known as the BioLounge. With antique Victorian sofas, bio-curiosity cabinets, rotating art and science exhibits, and free coffee and tea make the space one of CU’s “best-kept secrets,” Balog said. .

“Everything here has an organic feel and look,” Balog said. “It’s designed to be inviting, comfortable and vintage, like your grandmother’s living room.

The non-smoker, a masterpiece of fashion, your grandmother’s biodiverse living room.

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