Word is fast spreading about the first Art-O-Mat to come to Colorado - the retired cigarette-vending machine that dispenses $5 art is a popular draw at Access Gallery in the Santa Fe arts district.
"One woman came down from Frisco," said gallery director Damon McLeese. "She runs a bookstore there and asked a customer what she should do on a free afternoon in Denver, and heard about what artists were doing here."
There are more than 100 Art-O-Mat machines across the country, vending cigarette-pack-size fine art from locations as diverse as the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and a Whole Foods Market in Houston.
The craze started in 1997, when North Carolina artist Clark Whittington got the idea to convert a recently banned cigarette-vending machine into a retro-chic method for dispensing palm-size art at affordable prices.
More than a decade later, the Art-O-Mat machines are still in demand. Twenty were installed in 2010, double the number of 2009. Last year, 16 new machines went into service.