The Art-O-Mat is relatively older re-invention that I've only just heard about because we got one in town a month or two back. Didn't even realize they were twenty years old until I was given the token coin which is celebrating their 20th Anniversary.
So, if it's not obvious, that is an old cigarette vending machine. You'd put coins in and pull the knob for the appropriate pack of cigarettes that you wanted. Art-O-Mat, refurbishes them and stocks art that fits the same size as a regular pack of cigarettes. They turned their first one into an art giving machine back in 1997.
I love repurposed things and the machines are really beautiful, so it's lovely that they have a new lease on life. It still takes a coin. Whatever establishment has agreed to have an Art-O-Mat machine gives you one golden token once you've paid $5. $2.50 of that price goes back to the artist, with the other $2.50 being equally split between Art-O-Mat for keeping their business up, and the establishment to do the same. In the case of the one photo'd above, it's in the historic Saenger Theatre in my downtown.
I remember being a kid, on travels with my family, and near the restroom area of most eating establishments were cigarette vending machines. I knew they were cigarettes because my parents were smokers, but they would never utilize one of these because the prices were more expensive than at a drug store. I always begged them to get a pack at one of these just so I could put the coin in and pull the knob.
Most of the ones I saw looked like this mid-century beauty right here. I did end up becoming a smoker and while on holiday in Virginia when I was seventeen, there was a stocked cigarette machine at the hotel where we were staying. These machines were pretty much non-existent back then, in 1997, yep the same year that Art-O-Mat came out with their first refurbished machine. Interesting.
Needless to say I was super excited. I deposited a bunch of coins, though much cheeper than at a drug store (what were mom and dad talking about?) and pulled the knob on a pack of Camel's. When I say it was still stocked, apparently it wasn't newly stocked. The cigarettes were old. Probably only a year (or two? maybe five... but not thirty), but it was really the experience; something I'd always had on my list of things to do, and I could check it off. I was still pleased as punch about the entire affair.
That was the only machine I'd seen in about ten years and it was also the last machine (stocked with cigarettes) that I ever saw; like a wild unicorn just waiting for me to complete something off of my list. I know it's weird to look at it that way, especially with the taboo word of cigarettes, but whatever. It was a highlight for me in life. You have yours, I have mine. People are weird.
So, then our local news announced a few months back that the Saenger had acquired an Art-O-Mat (my first time hearing about these cigarette vending machines turned art) and was thoroughly excited!
I knew I'd go there and purchase a coin, then drag The Sister back on her birthday and present her with the token. She'd get to to choose her own art piece and pull the knob, it's a triple win birthday gift!
I went yesterday and decided on purchasing two tokens. I had to do this myself as well. So, I still have The Sisters' birthday token tucked away in my coin purse (it's only 2.5 weeks away) and I got busy choosing something to use my token on.
I chose what was called a Wine Cork Doll. They looked cute and from the labels I could see (tree & squirrel) they sounded alright. I thought I'd be getting the tree as it was on the bottom, but a mushroom is perfect as I'm also into Fungi.
I put up a collage (similar to the first, but the put together mushroom photo where the box is) and put it on Instagram. I like to share experiences, because isn't that what it is for? I ended up tagging Art-O-Mat and the artist, because if it were me I'd like to know where my art's been going.
She seemed pretty cool from Instagram. She likes Star Trek a lot (several Original Series characters she's created) and I can totally get on board with that, plus she's so far away from me (Michigan).
Although, it's weird for me when people connect. I didn't even know if either would see this and probably they wouldn't like the post, much less comment. But Art-O-Mat liked a comment I made to a friend of mine with an ubiquitous "Nice!". However the artist commented more. Is it good business to peddle your wares? Or is it just tacky? I've found that I'm actually kind of the polar opposite of people, so where a more normal person might think, 'Oh this is good business & full sets? I'll have to check that out!' I'm over here thinking, "She's selling to me (or anyone else that will read her comment) and that seems tacky to me. Well, if I were previously interested in purchasing something from her, I'm not really feeling it anymore."
So, that's my question. Am I just really weird and this is perfectly normal and acceptable? Or is this a tacky connect? I can't decipher if it's me or her. Perhaps it's me because I shouldn't have tagged anyone in the first place? Human-ing is difficult!
I don't know who the other like is for her comment, but one of them is me, because as a good southerner I was raised to show manners, to be appreciative even if one doesn't feel it. It's not honest, but whose it really hurting in this instance. She feels happy, I'm OK with liking the comment (as in its not a big deal that's going against all of my principles - like I'm not going along with people bullying someone else just to not make waves. See the difference?). I liked Art-O-Mat's comment too, though one knows it's not genuine, just because it's what ya do.
But with that aside, it was a fun experience, I think the mushroom is clever and The Sister is going to love this birthday gift! I'm ready to know which art she chooses.