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Best Cheap Thrill 


We at Riverfront Times count ourselves among the lucky ones. Not only do we have your standard vending machines that dispense snacks and sodas, but we also have...a beer vending machine, which spits out cold ones on demand, for free! While this sounds (and is) thrilling, the folks at the Center of Creative Arts have it even better. Since October 20, 2006, COCA has been the home of St. Louis' one and only Art-o-mat. Formerly a cigarette machine, the Art-o-mat has been rigged to cough up original art. No kiddin'! The contraption is one of 82 of its kind in the world, thanks to a North Carolina-based graphic designer named Clark Whittington and a group called Artists in Cellophane ( The artworks come from all over the globe and from a variety of different artists (including Edwardsville, Illinois, contributor Christine Holtz). You like your thrills cheap, right? Well, each creation costs only $5! A recent quest yielded an amusement park-style photo-viewing keychain courtesy of Julie Grace-Zimmerman and a practically postage stamp-size watercolor by Marlene Martorelli.

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