There, right next to the Museum store, was an Art-o-Mat, a renovated cigarette machine filled with Original Art.
The Art-o-Mat started in 1997 in Winston-Salem, N.C. Why there? Let’s just say that when the names of two cigarette companies make up the name of your town AND your town bans cigarette machines in public places, there’s a hole to fill.
According to the website, artist Clark Wittington created the first Art-o-Mat for a show, selling his black-and-white photographs for $1. When the show was over, the store that housed the art show asked to keep the machine.
Thus, a movement was born. There are currently over 90 machines around the country.
But the one in Lakeland is the one that suckered me. The idea of original art in cigarette pack sizes interests me; so sue me.
After much hem-hawing, the group finally decided on an original block painting. Drop in the token, pull the lever, and — KLANK! — out it comes.
It’s interesting, to say the least: a bald man with a stream of blood dripping from his forehead doing a Kilroy over a black fence with a gold skull on one side, and the words “The Space Between” repeated over and over on the other.
What’s it all mean? Who the heck knows? It’s art: it means everything. And nothing.
Here’s the kicker: I forgot to write down the artist’s name. Do you know? There doesn’t seem to be any signature on it and I haven’t been back to ask. So, it’s up to you. Let me know if you know who did this block of art.
In the meantime, while I’ve never been hooked on smoking I could easily develop a pack-a-day habit.