kindness activist

kindness activist

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Art-O-Mat Kindness

This week I am going to write of one “small” act of kindness every day.  Lately I have been lax in noticing kindness, and I think by taking time to sit down and think about, then tell you about one seemingly tiny act of kindness given or received everyday, I will get back into the groove of being alert and receptive to kindness.  And I hope the stories of “little” kindnesses will help you to be more alert and notice them in your lives, too.

Day three:

Art-O-Mats*, if you have never been lucky enough to happen upon one, are old cigarette machines repurposed to dispense ART.  I am kinda sorta in love with Art-O-Mats.  We have one in DC at the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery, and I am a huge fan of it!!!  Anytime I take a visitor to that museum I make sure to take them to the out-of-the-way room that houses the Art-O-Mat, and I try and make sure my enthusiasm is clear and contagious so that they will invest in art!!

The thing about Art-O-Mats is, see, they are a SURPRISE!!  You put your money in, then choose a knob to pull, and bam, just like that, your little piece of real live art pops out!  You can have a general sense of what you are getting – there is one little space for the artist to “advertise” their work, but trust me, it is a total crap shoot.  (Side note:  once my sister Sherry and I laughed soooo hard we cried when the art I got turned out to be, well, not really something we thought was attractive…  That artwork is now proudly displayed on our mantle.  Another Art-O-Mat piece hangs in our hallway.)
Art-O-Mat in DC

My sister and I examining our choices...

Anyway, recently we went to the Appleton Museum of Art in Ocala, Florida and I was thrilled to see an Art-O-Mat!!!!  I got the required token ($5) from the gift shop and headed back to the machine to make my big decision on which knob to pull!

When I got there, 2 young girls were also intrigued by the machine.  “You have to get a token!!  You put it in there!!!  Then you pull a handle!!!!!” they excitedly told me.  “I know!  Isn’t it great???” I replied.  The three of us nervously examined all of the choices – it is so hard to pick!  One girl really thought I should invest in the “mystery” choice – whose only “sneak peek” was a bunch of question marks…  But I had my heart set on a Florida artist, and I didn’t know where the question mark artist was from, so I moved on… 

I finally decided I wanted to pull the knob of the art whose provocation was “Wednesdsay: Washday, World’s Smallest Solar Dryer” crafted by Washday Miracle Clark Houck from Deland, Florida.  (The fine print said, “Wow is it tiny!” 😊 )  My two new friends were happy with that choice. I put in my token.  And let me just tell you, those two little girls and I were psyched!! 

Can't you just feel the excitement???
Then I decided to let the little girls pull the knob for me.

Maybe that doesn’t seem like a lot to you.  And I agree, it is not a huge thing.

But, for me, it was a tiny act of kindness.  Cuz, let me just be honest here, I really wanted to pull that knob myself…  I don’t have kids, and I guess I am a pretty independent person.  And really, the fun part of Art-O-Mat machines is pulling that knob and seeing your artwork pop out…  But those little girls deserved that fun, too, so I was happy to say, “Do you want to pull the knob for me??”.

Well, I thought they would pull it together, but it turns out the older sister was maybe a bit bossy, so she pulled that sucker out on her own, which was fine, the younger girl was happy just to be a part of it all I guess.  And that older girl quickly ripped the box holding my artwork opened, and the three of us smiled and marveled at what was revealed: it was indeed the world’s smallest solar dryer!!!!

Isn’t it fabulous?

Look!!!  It is the World's Smallest Solar Dryer!  Thanks, Clark Houck!  It is terrific.
Close up, with hand for size :)
* In writing this piece I did a bit of Googling and found some info on Art-O-Mati.  You can learn more about them here:

Keep your eyes open for kindness, and keep buying art!

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