Art ... from a vending machine 

Visual Arts

It sounds like a variation on an old joke: a couple of painters go to a Chinese New Year’s party … Local artists Matt Eickhoff and Artur Silva did just that last January. During the course of the evening, another artist, Tim Harmon, happened to mention that Eickhoff should show his art vending machine to someone at the Arts Council. Somehow, Silva, who had a vending machine of his own, got into the conversation.

Flash forward to the end of May. Matt and Artur’s Gallery of the Machine is unveiled in the Artsgarden at the Arts Council’s annual meeting. Well-dressed people stand in line and slip their $5 into a slightly retro-looking vending machine. But instead of walking away with candy bars and gum, these folks are buying original works of art by some 20 local artists.

“It’s yummy,” Silva says.

Funded with a $5,000 Fast Track grant from the city’s Cultural Development Commission, the Gallery of the Machine is loaded with small paintings, local artist trading cards, art business cards and packages of sculpture. It’s at once a feast for the eyes — a look at all the wares on display is a visual treat, a smorgasbord of styles — and a legitimate opportunity to purchase an artwork that’s truly suitable for framing. So far, about 60 pieces have been purchased at $5 a piece. The artist receives $3 and the rest is divided between the Arts Council of Indianapolis and gallery owners/curators Eickhoff and Silva.

“I think it’s neat to see how artists have played with this,” says Eickhoff, who has created a sequence of number paintings for the gallery. Other artists participating include Judy Levy, Ed Funk, John Clark, Katarzyna Surna and Bill Rasdell.

Eickhoff and Silva would love to place an art vending machine in the airport, or anywhere people who might not otherwise visit a local gallery are passing through. This way, they point out, the work travels to other places and becomes a kind of calling card for this city’s creativity.

“I’m just thankful that somebody that’s distributing public money is putting faith in independent thinking,” Silva says. If you would like to find out more about Eickhoff and Silva’s art vending machine, including how to get one of your own, contact This particular model will be on display and ready to sell you an original work of art in the Artsgarden through Aug. 30.

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David Hoppe

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