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Sep 11

Vintage Machine Offers $5 Original Art

Posted on September 11, 2019 at 8:50 AM by Beth Shumate

Art-o-Mat at Heard-Craig HouseA new twist on an old machine is providing the public with original art at a low cost!

The Heard-Craig Center for the Arts recently installed a piece of nostalgia in the Center's carriage house - a vintage, retired cigarette machine that dispenses little boxes of art for a mere $5. 

Heard-Craig Executive Director Karen Zupanik presented the idea of installing an Art-o-Mat machine on the Heard-Craig property to the McKinney Community Development last year. The MCDC grant enabled Zupanik to bring this unusual throwback to days-gone-by to McKinney. The idea, aside from the fact that the machine is a perfect fit for McKinney's historic, vintage "vibe," is that the Art-o-Mat makes original artwork affordable to all. Besides, it's just plain cool!

What is the Art-o-Mat?
The first Art-o-Mat was created from a banned cigarette machine in 1997 as part of artist Clark Whittington's solo art show at a cafe in North Carolina. He sold 12 of his black and white photos mounted on blocks using the machine. The owner of the cafe loved the idea so much, she asked the artist to allow the machine to stay permanently. Whittington reached out to other artists to help him keep the machine full of original art. As a result, the artists formed Artists in Cellophane, a group that is now the sponsoring organization of the Art-o-Matic program

Zupanek and her team at the Heard-Craig selected a variety of artwork from the more than 400 artists that provide their work to the Art-o-Mat program. As people buy the artwork currently in the machine, the staff will refill it with other artists' work. 

Unveiling of Machine
The Heard-Craig Center for the Arts, located at 205 W. Hunt, is hosting an Art Unveiling Reception on Friday, Sept. 13, from 4-7 p.m.