Hungry customers open the door into the foyer of Roosters WaterFront Restaurant and are faced with a snack machine. It’s an odd sight for patrons about to satisfy their cravings.But this snack machine isn’t selling overpriced junk food. Instead of potato chips, licorice and diet soda, pieces of watercolor, fiber art, pottery and jewelry sit in the metal loops of the machine.
It is called Vincent Art à la Carte and was created by Clarkston’s Nancy Morrison. She was inspired by the concept of Art-O-Mats, or retired cigarette machines that sell art pieces for a set price.
An old Art-O-Mat lives inside Washington State University’s Compton Union Building with pack-sized art pieces that sell for $5.
“I noticed those, and they had a good start on the idea, but you can’t see the product,” Morrison said.
So, Vincent — short for Vincent van Gogh — has his art pieces on display, except for those hidden behind the first in line, which customers try to peek past anyway. Morrison has to clean the glass weekly due to smeared fingerprints.
“The point of this, more than making money, is to get local artists’ artwork out where it can see the light of day,” said Morrison, who filled Vincent’s slots with work from 15 Lewiston-Clarkston Valley artists. “The kind of people that are going to put artwork in a snack machine, they’re not the ones that are so full of themselves that they have to have a museum or gallery. They are people that love to make art, that love to create.”
Morrison is an artist, too, and because she doesn’t currently charge consignment, she instead sells her own mixed media art to make a bit of profit.
Customers can read about whose art is in each slot. Art ranges from $2-$35, and children’s jewelry art projects located in the bottom of the machine, cost $2.
Since the mid-October installation, Morrison estimates that 20 pieces have sold.
Kelsey Grafton is one of the artists featured behind Vincent’s glass. She’s selling her original watercolor paintings of owl scenes.
“It’s a way to generate a buying atmosphere and art awareness throughout the valley in a unique form,” Grafton said. “The products should be changing out all the time, so if you don’t see the one you want, it’s always worth a look.”
For now, Vincent accepts cash up to $20, and gives back $1 coins for change.
Morrison had a sensor installed to ensure pieces won’t stick and money isn’t wasted on a caught piece of art. If the piece doesn’t drop, customers get a second chance to press the button, as an attempt to release the piece again. If all else fails, Morrison’s phone number is on the machine, but she’s never gotten a call.
Vincent has a sister, too. Georgia — short for Georgia O’Keefe — lives in Morrison’s backyard, and with enough artist interest, Morrison said she’ll start looking for Georgia’s Moscow home. Interested artists can contact her via email at email@example.com.
In the meantime, Morrison is still working to improve Vincent. Her goal is to have scannable QR codes near the artwork, so people can look pieces up online before purchasing, and to learn more about each artist.
“And with so much variety in the machine,” she said, “I haven’t had to ask for any more artwork yet.”
Treffry can be contacted at (208) 883-4640 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @LindseyTreffry.
->if you go
WHAT: Vincent Art à la Carte
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
WHERE: Roosters WaterFront Restaurant, 1010 Port Way, Clarkston
COST: Pieces range from $2 to $35. The machine accepts cash up to $20.