Some time ago I was goofing around on the internet, as is my custom, and I stumbled across something called Art-o-mat. An Art-o-mat is a retired cigarette vending machine that is refurbished and converted to dispense pieces of artwork that are the same size and weight as a pack of cigarettes. I thought that was a pretty cool thing, but I checked the map and saw that Idaho does not have an Art-o-mat machine in the state. I did, however, notice that there is one in Dayton, Ohio. I happen to be in Dayton for some training right now, so I put it on my list of things to do while I'm here.
My work has kept me pretty busy during the day and I have been studying in the evenings, so I haven't had a lot of opportunity to get out and about yet. But today we got out of class early enough that I had time to put my plan into action. The plan was to park my car at a park near the river and walk the trail down the river to the Dayton Visual Arts Center, where I would use the Art-o-mat, see what else there was to see, and head back down the trail to my car, hopefully catching a lot of Pokemon along the way.
Things started out pretty well. The trail is paved and it was pretty scenic. Ohio is very green. If you leave nature to fend for itself in Idaho, it turns brown and rocks come out of the ground. If you don't mow every 8-12 hours in Ohio, you get a wall of brush and weeds 20 feet high.
My main complaint is that it was hot and muggy. I think the temperature was around 90 degrees and the humidity was like a million gallons per atmospheric unit or however they measure the water in the air. That is one reason why I was the only person on the trail aside from the occasional bicyclist. The other reason is that after I got down the trail a ways it was blocked off and closed for construction. There were detour signs, so I followed them and found myself walking several miles through the less-scenic parts of Dayton. There were waste management companies, recycling facilities, scrapyards, forges, abandoned buildings, and all the stuff you usually see while driving quickly through the industrial part of town. I am glad that for most of the detour there were sidewalks. I noticed that I continued to be the only person stupid enough to be out walking in the heat.
After a long time, I got to where I was headed. There were people there, and I saw a park with a water pad and benches and a vending machine where I might find a cold bottle of water. But first I had to get to the Art Center.
This is me in front of the Dayton Visual Arts Center. I actually took this picture as I was leaving, but that doesn't really matter. It didn't change much while I was in there. Before getting to the Art-o-mat I signed the guest book, enjoyed the air conditioning, and looked at the displays they had up. It's a small building, but there was enough art there to keep me busy for 20 minutes or so. I don't have much of an art vocabulary, but there were a few things that made me linger and think for a minute. There was a guy moving around, setting up a table with hors d'oeuvres for an event they were having. One art fixture was a wind chime/gong-looking thing. I wanted to make a sound with it, but I wasn't sure if it was okay. Later on a couple came in for the event and the guy went over and rang the chime and I cheered a little inside. They were known to the guy setting up the table, so it was probably better for that guy to be the one to bang the chime.
So I finally got back to the Art-o-mat machine and had to decide which art to get. It's a pretty cool-looking fixture in itself. They are all different and there are a lot of them. The gallery of machines on the Art-o-mat site is pretty impressive. Each slot in the machine is stocked with art by a particular artist, so you have some idea about what you might get.
I saw a familiar name among the listings, as Kettle is a pseudonym for John Soukup, an artist I've featured many times on my blog. I knew from my research beforehand that each piece of art costs $5, so I had a couple of fives ready. Two times I put my bill in the machine and pulled the handle, and after a ker-chunk sound and some rattling a painted block of wood slid out of the chute.
Here are the pieces I got, both by Kettle. In retrospect it might have been cool to sample some other artists, but maybe I can visit again and give it a shot. I was happy to add another couple of pieces to my Kettle art collection. I'm pretty sure that I purchased the last two Kettle pieces in the machine, as when I looked at the slot in the machine that painting of the girl was the one on top of his stack. Not all of the art is paintings on blocks of wood. Some artists make jewelry and put it in little boxes. I saw that one person makes little toy rocket ships that can be assembled. Artists make little notebooks or figurines and package them so that they are the right shape. It's a pretty cool idea.
At this point I realized that it was about time to start heading back. I hadn't thought ahead enough, and now I had a dilemma. I had these two pieces of artwork painted with water-soluble paints, and I had to get them all the way back across town to my car. I asked the guy at the gallery if they had a bag I could take with me, and he went in the back and found something that would work. I thought that was pretty nice of him, and I thanked him and went on my way because it looked like the art event was about to kick off and I didn't want to be there when that happened. I don't have a goatee, so the art folks would have known me for an outsider and hazed me or something.
I walked back by the park and found that the vending machine didn't work, but there was a concession stand and I bought a slush drink from them. It was probably the best dollar I spent this year. It was just icy sugar water, but I was hot and miserable and that sugary water ice drink was the best thing in the world. I noticed that there were a lot of people around looking at their phones, so I got my phone out and saw that I was right on top of two Pokestops. I sat there with my slush for a while and caught a lot of Pokemon, including several new ones that I hadn't seen yet. The breeze coming in off the river made the weather almost nice, if a little hot. Once I started walking again that niceness went away. I walked past Fifth Third Field where the Dayton Dragons play baseball, but they didn't have a game tonight. It looked like there was something going on in the park, but it wasn't baseball. After that I walked through a slightly different part of Dayton's industrial area than I had on the way in. Again, I was the only person on the sidewalk for the whole time.
At one point a woman called out, "I like your bag! It's real cute!" from a car stopped at a red light. I thanked her, but I think she must have been messing with me or something. As you can see, it's a plain white bag with handles on it. I guess maybe it's an odd thing for a man to be carrying around the industrial area of town. I am not very good with social cues and interactions, so I don't really know what was going on there. Hopefully she got what she was looking for.
Eventually I got back to my car and I was very happy to be sitting down in the air conditioning again. My feet still hurt, and I imagine I will have more aches and pains tomorrow. The walk was a little too long and the heat was a little too hot for me to be doing that kind of thing. I would like to go back over to that area of town, but next time I will park a lot closer. At least I got some nice art, some new Pokemon, and a decent story out of the ordeal.