Monday, April 13, 2009

Don't Go 'Round Artless

After stumbling across this blog yesterday, I realized that I have never, in my almost year of blogging, ever blogged about Art-O-Mats.  If you could walk through my house, you would see what a travesty it is that I have overlooked them in my blogging.  Art-O-Mats are cigarette vending machines that have been refurbished to vent small, cigarette-pack-sized pieces of art for generally $5 per piece.  In early 2002, my very first art-o-mat piece was purchased from the original Art-O-Mat machine at Mary's Of Course Cafe in Winston-Salem, NC, which was initially an art installation itself.  Since then, I've collected from machines all over NC and even as far away as the machine in the Whitney Museum in NYC.  I haven't counted recently, but I would guess my art-o-mat collection stands somewhere around 150.  I have everything from from earrings, necklaces, photographs, paintings, carved wood blocks, pottery, blown glass, ceramics, stained glass, and metal in nearly every room of my house.  The photos below capture only half or less of our art-o-mat collection.  The kids each have their own art-o-mat collections in their rooms as well.

These small black and white photos hang on my living room wall.

The collection in Paulie and Philip's room.

The collection in Elizabeth's room.

The piece I bought for Finn
shortly after becoming pregnant with him.

Philip's favorite piece.

Elizabeth's favorite piece.
(the ceramic turtle was an art-o-mat, the glass turtle I made)

My first art-o-mat was from the series below.  I loved it so much and credit Alicia Griswold, the poet and painter of this series, for first attracting my attention to art-o-mats.  After trying to collect the entire series through the machines and giving away many duplicates, I contacted Alicia, and she kindly made an entire set for me.  They hang in our bedroom over our reading chair and bring immeasurable peace to that space.  (In my house, that says alot.)

My original display cubes for art-o-mats.  
They remain in another corner of our bedroom.

If you'd like to find an Art-O-Mat near you, please check here for locations.


  1. I LOVE how you've displayed your pieces!
    kudos to you for being such a supporter of the arts!
    be well!

  2. I've often wondered about you! I was so thrilled when you asked me to make you a set and love seeing how you've displayed them! thanks for the great post!
    I'm still at it. Art-o-matting is more fun than ever now. This is great.
    I like your blog and how you're raising your kids, too. alicia

  3. I have never heard them before. neat-o!

  4. Never heard of such a thing! How fun.

  5. Clear out here in the boondocks, I've never heard of them. That is a cool, cool idea.

  6. I wish there was an Art-0-Mat in my town! You've gotten some fabulous art that way. :) What a fun use for those old machines.

  7. This is the absoulute coolest thing I think I have ever seen. I have never seen these machines before. I love how you display them. Thanks for sharing the link to finding them.

  8. Joy, that is outstanding! I love it-- we have two glass pieces from the piece you bought for Finn, and they are some of my favorite art we own.

    I have vague memories of having heard of these but I've never seen one. But I've been wanting to try Mary's-- another reason to go-- ART!

  9. I've never even heard of them! lol

    Clicked on the link you gave, and found out there is one store in Idaho 4 hours away. I'll have to check it out next time I'm in Boise.

    I love how you've displayed them throughout your home.

  10. This is fascinating! I never knew these exsisted. Now I have to go searching. What a great collection! Thanks for sharing.

  11. Wow, What a collection, Joy! We are going to tweet about you, if you don't mind. Yours truly, A.I.C.

  12. THis is way cool. I've never heard of them. are all the pieces originals?


I love to hear what you think!