Top to bottom: Art-o-Mat and Science Bear Arcade   John Anderson

Best Art on the Spot

TIE: Art-o-Mat; Science Bear Arcade

You don't need to have wads of cash to get good art, and in this piece-of-crap economy who has the expendable money anyhow? Tucked away in dozens of highbrow art destinations across the nation (including the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City and locally at Mercury Design Studio), Art-o-Mat repurposes retired retro-fab cigarette dispensers to spew individually crafted, bite-size artworks for 5 bucks. While you can chose the artist, you never know exactly what you're going to get. Over the years we've gotten pewter cast saltine crackers, refrigerator magnets, and, yes, even a Condoleezza Rice pin cushion. Oh the absolute joys of sewing! Representing the craft-based idiom are the always joyful (and mirthful) Science Bear Arcade mini-stores-in-a-box produced by the Palfloat collective. We hear tell there are SBAs located all across this fine city, but the one we enjoy is located in Lava Java. Second-aid kits filled with beads and baubles, comics by World Salad, Nerf margaritas, trash casseroles, and Ziploc baggies packed with items – clues – found by "courtroom janitors." Any item in the SBA boxes is less than 5 bucks, and they're worth heaps more in the sheer joy of the hunt.

Mercury Design Studio
209 W. Second, 512/236-0100

Lava Java
2901 Medical Arts Ste. B, 512/495-9299

Science Bear Arcade


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