Machine at Lowe sells student work

Up-and-coming artists have a unique venue to promote their work – a vending machine at the Lowe Art Museum.

Visitors can purchase a small wooden sculpture, painting or drawing for $5 at the machine, dubbed the Art-o-Mat. Students can now submit work to be considered for the machine. The submission form is available at

The Lowe’s store manager, Lorrie Stassum, is unsure how many art pieces have been sold since it was installed three to four years ago. However Stassum said the machine has been successful.

According to Brian Dursum, the director and chief curator of the Lowe Art Museum, about 65 cents of every $5 spent go to the museum. The remainder goes to the artist and taxes.

“It’s just a fun thing that people like,” he said.

Sophomore Hadley Jordan, a studio art and visual journalism, said that she would be more inclined to contribute her artwork if the profits went to a good cause, such as raising money to promote arts in the public school system.

“If all of the artists are receiving $4.35 for their pieces, that’s not enough to make a difference in their bank account,” she said. “If all the money is pooled in the same place, though, and goes to a good cause, that is a better use of resources and gives more incentive to donate art.”

The Art-o-Mat was first created by Clark Whittington in 1997. Whittington wanted to have a unique, solo art show, and decided to use an empty cigarette machine to create the first ever Art-o-Mat. He never realized his idea would eventually catch on and be used in venues across the nation.

“It just kind of grew and had a life of its own, naturally,” Whittington said.

Student work is on sale in many Art-o-Mat machines. The most active student group is from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

“We encourage more and more people to get involved,” Whittington said. “Usually we can find a home for just about anyone’s work.”

Freshman Talia Touboul believes that having artwork in the Art-o-Mat would be a great way to get a student artist’s name out there. However, she sees a drawback.

“Besides Brito and Andy Warhol, mass production of a painting isn’t always the way to go to keep value at its highest,” she said.

March 25, 2012


Tiffany Ford

3 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Machine at Lowe sells student work”

  1. April says:

    I believe that having an Art-o-Mat machine in the Lowe Art Museum is a genius idea. Although students only receive $4.35 for each of their pieces of work, it is a great way to get their names out in the public. Everyone needs to start somewhere and this is a fine place to begin. I however agree with Sophomore Hadley Jordan. The profits of the artwork should not go to the artists or to the Lowe Art Museum, but instead should go to charity. She was right when she said that no one is benefitting from $4.35 and in my opinion, the museum is in no dire need of 65 cents. For a charity, however, to collect $5 from each piece sold would make a significant difference in it’s funding. As a student of a painting class at the University of Miami, I can vouch for the fact that nothing would make me happier then seeing my work help subsidize others. I spend approximately 15 hours on each painting and so receiving a measly $4.35 in return would be insulting. This policy regarding the Art-o-Mat machines should definitely be mended.

  2. S.Mosler says:

    There is an art vending machine in the Lowe? Sounds like an art junkie’s dream come true. I’m glad to see this old news made new again because I had no idea of its existence.

    I agree with Hadley Jordan that if this concept was taken a step further to support a cause and not just individual artists, it would be more of a success. It reminds me of a recent visit to Peru where street artists try and sell their miniature paintings for just about nothing. The money put into these machines should go towards supporting artist communities and promoting the arts, not necessarily the individuals behind the art.

    If anything I will have to make a special visit to the Lowe to see this Art-o-Mat, make better use the $5 that would have gone towards a Starbucks latte, and maybe consider submitting my own work. I have always loved miniatures.

  3. D.VACCA says:

    First of all I have to say that I found this article really interesting, since in way, it is promoting and informing people about the existence of this art machine. I personally didn’t know that this “Art-o-Mat” existed, and now thanks to this article I know about it and I am tempted to go see what all this is about.
    Since the article doesn’t really specify what there is for sale inside this machine, I feel the need and curiousness to go into Lowe and take a look.
    I personally appreciate that the author has provided a little bit of history as regards who created the first “Art-o-Mat” because I actually had no idea who had invented it. I thought the first one had been the one at Lowe.
    I think the idea of donating five cents of every $5 spent to the museum, is really positive and might encourage students to donate more arts pieces.
    I think the “Art-o-Mat” is a clever way of promoting students’ work, but at the same time it represents a helping-hand for the Lowe Art Museum, bringing more people in, and probably making them want to stay and explore.

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published in print every Tuesday.