Wednesday, April 9, 2014

On the Road: The Las Vegas Art O Mat

Gotta light? Need to add a spark to your art collection?
There was a time when Las Vegas gambling halls wreaked of smoke and cigarette girls walked the floors offering you your preferred smoke. Cigarette girls gave way to cigarette machines and cigarette machines gave way to clear lungs. But what became of the ubiquitous cigarette machine? At least one hundred of them have become self contained art galleries.

Known as Art-o-mat® the repurposed cigarette machines dispense art from the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City to the Farmers Daughter Hotel in Los Angeles. In Las Vegas, the Cosmopolitan on The Strip boasts eight of the pop-up art galleries!

The brainchild of artist Clark Whittington the first Art-o-mat® was created in 1997. From that first machine, the Artists in Cellophane collective was formed in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Today, there are around 400 artists from 10 countries who participate in the Art-o-mat® project.

How did we add to our art collection with our $5 pull at the Cosmopolitan?

From the tray where packs of cigarettes once came through we collected a cigarette pack sized "original Italy-inspired collage art" by Jennifer Wilkin Penick from her No Place Like Rome collection. Jennifer writes in the accompanying info

sheet that, "the series featured here is called Personal Curiosity Cabinet. Cabinets of Curiosities (also known as Cabinets of Wonder) originated in Renaissance Europe as collections of objects (sometimes with mysterious origins) collected from many fields of knowledge:natural history, geology, ethnography, archaeology, religious or historical relics, works of art, and antiquities."

Jennifer also writes that, "I find collages poem-like in their ability to create a narrative or mood from an array of originally unrelated bits."

Personal Curiosity Cabinet will now have a home in Chicago joining other curiosities from travels through Italy and abroad.


  1. I love hearing where my small works of art end up!

    1. Your artwork made me smile and it was quite portable. It went from Vegas to Chicago to Los Angeles.