We also, of course, had to poke around in the Museum Store a bit ... they had a "family" store downstairs (I guess to keep the kiddies from trashing the fine-art reproductions up in the main store), and, while she was strongly tempted by a number of goodies, I did manage to get us out of there without buying anything. After about 3 hours at the Art Institute I figured that it was about time for a change of venue, and told #1 that (since we'd saved on admission and didn't get anything in the store) I'd introduce her to the Art*o*mat® up at the Chicago Cultural Center (which was also having a very interesting "Comics on the Verge" exhibition that #1 found amusing).
As attentive readers of this space may recall, I quite a fan of the Art*o*mat concept ... and I was happy to open up Daughter #1's world to include this. Of course, being that the Art*o*mat is a vending machine (and what kid doesn't like those), it was not a huge stretch to get her quite enthusiastic about it!
For those of you unfamilliar with this delightfully discordian bit of art marketing, the Art*o*mat® concept was dreamed up by a group of Winston-Salem, NC artists who came up with the idea in 1997 of using an out-of-service cigarette vending machine to sell small pieces of art as part of a show they were mounting. The idea was just too good to die at the end of that show, and there are now 71 re-furbished cigarette machines vending art around the country. I've only actually seen the one at the Chicago Cultural Center, but there you buy a "token" for the machine in their gift shop (for $5.00) and then take it back out in the hall where the Art*o*mat awaits for you to "pay your money and make your choice". The Chicago machine has 22 slots for art projects, some of which at any given time might be sold out (I'm guessing that each slot might hold 10-12 packs). As you can see in the pictures here, there are little 2x2" tags describing the art in each ... which leaves you pretty much with a "pig in a poke" situation, as it's hard to capture what's "there" from these little blurbs.
We ended up getting two things this time ... I first got Lisa Lombardi-Bello's "Hand Made", which I thought might have been a carved soapstone disk ... what it turned out to be was actually a small hand-made soap, with most of the art, I guess, concentrated on the packaging. Daughter #1 didn't think that was special enough and for her choice went with the Weener Ware "art in a bottle cap" pin (which she was very pleased to find had a wiener, a miniature hot dog, as part of the art piece ... I realize that pic is a bit hard to make out, but it's a bottle cap with glitter and stuff beneath some clear matrix in which the tiny plastic hotdog is embedded). You always end up wondering what other treasures might be found if one were to only pump in more $5.00 tokens, but I figured we were ahead of the game a this point and headed on out (McDonalds' soft-serve cones were calling).
I keep wanting to "develop something" for the Art*o*mats (yes, I was an Art Major in school ... along with English and Religion), but have not quite found the "ideal" piece. The format is, of course, fairly restrictive, being that the finished piece has to be 2.125" x 3.25" x 0.875", and one needs to make a minimum of 50 pieces. I've "prototyped" a couple of things, but they've all been out-of-scale or just plain not interesting enough. Also, given that the "retail" is $5, there's also "no money in it", since by the time you've done a box, wrapped it in the required acetate (see their site) and covered you material expenses, you'd be lucky to "make" a buck on each. Anyway ... if I ever do come up with a piece that gets accepted, I'll let everybody know ... maybe I can spin off something from the art project that I'm working on to sell on eBay!