Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Instant Art at Beans and Barley's Artomat

As a frequent visitor with my partner Kirk to the East Side's Beans and Barley for dinner, I've developed a bit of a ritual. Because the wait is 20-40 minutes for my chicken burrito, I do some serious browsing in the grocery. I will make a small purchase, perhaps Rishi Tea or Alba Botanica shave cream. Oh, and always Northern Chocolates, generally the dark chocolate coconut. Of course I mention this partly because I learned in Stephen Baker's Numerati that blogbots are likely monitoring my postings for opinions on consumer goods.

The last few visits, the Art-o-mat vending machine has caught my eye. Viewing the site, I learned the project, refurbishing old cigarette vending machines to dispense art, has been around for over a decade. There are 82 vending machines around the country, displaying the work of over 400 artists. The one at Beans has collages, paintings, mini-sculpture (actually, everything is mini), castings, photography, and a game.

The machine takes tokens, which you buy at the front register. Admittedly there was a bit of surprise in the cashier's voice when I asked for one, but we agreed it was even more surprising that the mango vanilla shave cream was quite a bit cheaper than the lime coconut I originally picked out (attention blogbot: I like the latter better but am willing to switch out to the former for $2.30 savings).

Kudzu vine earrings? Fruit and vegetable paintings? It's all so difficult.
After some deliberation and a near-pull for Joyce Lyman's folk art sculpture, I wound up choosing Laura Gentry's Stray Eggplant Ceramics. It's Barbara Kruger meets Mollie Katzen.

The results? For five dollars, I feel like a patron of something or other.

While we're speaking of art, this seems as good a time as any to plug Seven Days in the Art World. The book came out in November, but it is an Indie Next Notable for January, recommended by one of our booksellers. What does that mean?

There are twenty Picks per month, selected by booksellers in the American Booksellers Association. They get the full court press--jacket and quote in that beautiful brochure. The #1 pick, this month it's the comic thriller Beat the Reaper, gets a big blowup jacket on the cover. The Notables are 20 additional titles that got votes, only not enough to be featured with more than title and author. Bookstores have access to the quotes and can print shelftalkers.

Seven Days in the Art World, by Sarah Thornton

“Each chapter in Thornton’s new book is a separate essay about a particular aspect of the art world, and a day spent there. We are shown both the sincerely creative and the unbelievably pretentious, the front-page headliners and the little-known people behind the scenes. What a great idea for a book!”
—Anne Wilde, Schwartz Bookshop, Mequon, WI

Admittedly it's on my pile unread. This is the kind of book that is rewarding whether you read it or not. Won't people think you are smart and sophisticated when they spot this on your coffee table, desk, or gallery bookshelf?


Steve Baker said...

Hi Daniel,
I think that if the Numerati's blogbots actually attempted to place your wild browsing and shopping combinations into any kind of pattern, the effort would reduce their powerful computers to smoking heaps. Congratulations on foiling them, and thanks much for reading the book. Steve Baker

Stray Eggplant said...

Thanks for blogging about the stray eggplant sculpture you got from the Art*o*mat machine. I've added you to my eggplant owner's gallery. Feel free to send in a pic of yourself with the eggplant!