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Art-o-Mat Updates

January 15, 2013

Last week, I had the opportunity to select works from twenty-five new artists to restock SECCA’s Art-o-Mat.  For those of you who haven’t heard of Art-o-Mat, it is local Winston-Salem artist Clark Whittington’s project that brings art to the community.  The Art-o-Mat began in 1997 when Whittington refurbished a prohibited cigarette machine in which he sold his photography rather than cigarettes, and put it in a local café with one of his shows. Since then, the idea has only expanded.  Fifteen and a half years later, his project has grown to include about four hundred participating artists from ten different countries, and his machines are spread out across the US.  They have even made their way to other countries.

I had never heard of Art-o-Mat before I arrived at SECCA, but I’m already a huge fan.  I love that the Art-o-Mat is a way to make art accessible and amusing, and it gives artists all over the world a chance to reach a wider audience. At the same time, it reminds us that art can be found anywhere, can be created out of anything, and comes in many shapes and sizes.  Not to mention the idea of recycling old, seemingly useless materials (well in this case, the size and shape of cigarette packs) to create art and give something back to the community is a fantastic concept.

Steven and I arrived at Clark’s studio to pick out the newest artists to add to the SECCA Art-o-Mat and found two friendly dogs as well as shelves upon shelves of cigarette pack-sized works of art.  My task was a little daunting at first, but the slight anxiety I was experiencing transformed into delight as I browsed over all of the pieces.  Still, only picking out twenty-five pieces was no easy task.  There were so many great artists from which to choose.

I wanted to select a variety of types of artworks for the SECCA Art-o-Mat.  I selected paintings, prints, and mixed media pieces as well as more eccentric artworks such as “Lost and Found Jewelry,” screen printed bandanas, rock art (literally), and sculpture.

Two popular artists and their artworks are making reappearances.  Kill Taupe’s Bunnies and Dewitt Young’s Young Capacitor Dudes will be back in the SECCA Art-o-Mat.  Taupe’s ironic bunnies and Dewitt’s charming robots will bring a smile to your face.  Apparently they run out quickly, so snatch them up while you can! We are also including local Winston-Salem artist Mona Wu’s Lino Prints: tiny linographs of flowers, vegetables, and boats.  Jodi Hoover’s Little Monsters are sure to be popular as well.  These creatures are far more cute than frightening. I also chose less traditional art works by Martha Schermerhorn.  Schermerhorn’s Personal Passion Dolls—little, multicolored paper dolls that hang from a string—present messages of empowerment.  I would love to write about the remaining artists—there are many more great ones to talk about—but this post would be too long and, of course, I wouldn’t want to completely ruin the element of surprise.  Think of it as another one of the many reasons why you should give SECCA a visit.

I’d like to take home every last piece, but don’t worry, I’ll save some for you.  Here is the link to the Art-o-Mat website: http://www.artomat.org/.  You can find a machine near you, look at some of the artists participating in this project, and maybe even get involved yourself!

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