Mixed Media: the Art-o-mat

MAThilda, the Art-o-mat: she take your money

Cigarette vending machines have gone the way of dinosaurs. No longer do they grace the lobbies of restaurants, hotels, and bus stations, providing easy access to their deleterious products. Art-o-mat vending machines, 
on the other hand, are growing in popularity (and their contents are much healthier, too). Art-o-mats are cigarette machines that have been retired and converted into devices to dispense art. More than 100 machines are 
currently in use across the United States, and a few are in operation overseas. 
This month, Santa Fe adds its name to the roster of locations when an Art-o-mat (nicknamed MAThilda) comes to the hallway of El Centro de Santa Fe (102 E. Water St.).

For the art collector in you who can’t afford high-end gallery prices, the Art-o-mat offers an opportunity to purchase an original cigarette-box-sized artwork for $5 — that’s cheaper than most packs of cigarettes these days. Clark Whittington, founder and creator of the Art-o-mat, and Victoria Brown, the program’s Santa Fe host, conduct a meet-and-greet at the Santa Fe launch on Saturday, Feb. 16, from 1 to 5 p.m. Local artists inter-
ested in participating are invited to attend.

If you’re on the road and jonesing for a fix that only art can provide, check out www.artomat.org to find a location near you. The website is also 
a great place to view the art, see the vintage vending machines, and, if you are an artist, learn how to submit your work. The Santa Fe Art-o-mat, as yet the only one in the state, is turquoise and features New Mexico’s iconic Zia sun symbol. For information, call Brown at 795-1783.