Art is better than cigarettes
On $5 slots in Vegas, the library in Sheboygan, and vending machines for high culture
The Art-o-mat project takes old cigarette vending machines and converts them to distribute little works of art instead. They're all over the country, but there's a particularly busy set in Las Vegas. For $5, it's a better guaranteed return than any other machine in the city.
■ Aside from the excellent repurposing of machines that formerly dispensed slow death by the pack, the Art-o-mat idea does something exceptionally worthwhile: It makes art fun. Specifically, it makes the acquisition of art thoroughly democratic, public, and even a touch whimsical. What's going to come out of the machine? The user has a general idea, but it's uncertain until the piece actually lands with a "thud" in the dispenser tray.
■ Art should be a part of ordinary life. We celebrate trips to MoMA and the Louvre, but there's every reason to celebrate small installations, too. No city is required by law to have a museum, but those that do reveal a motivation to show themselves off.
■ The Art-o-mat, though, can be a miniature gallery in a place as unassuming as a brewery outside of Joliet or a library in Sheboygan. And it should be seen as complementary with the development of artificial-intelligence image generators like Dall-E: The more we come to expect art all around (of whatever origins), the more we normalize appreciation for aesthetics. The world need not be ugly.
From dead spot along the casino wall to art gallery