The James Kaneko Gallery at American River College has installed a refurbished cigarette machine that now dispenses art to raise money for gallery costs.
The machine, dubbed the Art-O-Matic, originally sat in the art department’s administrative office but opened to the public this semester as a part of the gallery.
The Art-O-Matic dispenses art from seven different artists, along with art by ARC students.
“It used to be a cigarette machine in a beauty shop, and then a restaurant, in Memphis,” said ARC art student Abbey Cocreham. “Laura Parker (an ARC art professor) works with metal and converted it.”
The machine takes tokens, which are sold at the gallery for ten dollars each.
“It’s the best, cheapest way to start a bonafide art collection,” said ARC art professor and gallery director Patricia Wood. “Everyone should collect real art.”
All profits generated by the machine go back to the gallery to help cover costs to book artists and run shows.
“It helps us get artists from further places. It helps us achieve greater things,” said art student Trisha Carter.
The machine may even help the gallery start a lecture series, bringing in artists and art curators, according to Wood.
The machine has a storied past, and ARC art students even have a theory that connects the machine to Elvis.
“Priscilla Presley may have used the machine, she went to the barbershop,” said Carter. “She also went to the restaurant that the barbershop was converted to.”
Wood and her students highly encouraged ARC students and staff to see the Art-O-Matic and the current exhibition in the gallery, “Selections from the Museum of Historical Makeovers” by Kathy Aoki.
The Kaneko Gallery is open Monday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m..