June 30 2022
Vending machines that contain snacks are officially passé. The first Curio Machine, an upcycled local art vending machine, has arrived in Asheville and it’s dispensing everything from DIY dinosaur kits to funky shoelaces to mystery prints.
After chatting with creators Ben Loomis + Bunny Eaton to learn more about the device, we then stopped by Storm Rhum Bar (125 South Lexington Ave.) to indulge our curiosity.
All the art is locally-made and purchased wholesale by the Curio team. | Photo by Bunny Eaton
Ben and Bunny, both WNC-based artists, originally became friends in 2017 through — in the words of Ben — “a now defunct, very rowdy art gallery and punk house” in Boone. The duo — inspired by the wacky machines in Portland (stay weird, PDXtoday) and the Winston-Salem Art-o-mats — decided to try their hand at dispensing regional art through old snack vending machines they found on Facebook Marketplace.
Though Ben admits he zapped himself a few times in the process, he and Bunny (who inherited an engineering mind from her dad), devoured enough manuals to successfully convert these 600+ lb machines into functional, modern, and visually stunning devices.
This mixed media art magnet was made by Marion Cloaninger. | Photo by AVLtoday
What’s this thing dispensing?
Nothing in the machine costs more than $20. Much of the art featured is playful + interactive. You’ll find things like origami practice kits, the “Scratch Fable” storytelling game, and handmade puzzle boxes. There’s also quirky, vintage items like paperback books and VCRs. Editor Laura’s favorite offerings were the mystery prints, magnets, stickers, and key charms.
B4 you even ask…
Presently, there are nine of these machines in WNC (with eight of them parked in Boone). Curio has plans to install several more in Asheville in the near future — along with another in Charlotte.
“We’ve both spent a lot of time in Asheville and know it’s a hub for artistic endeavors in our area,” Bunny said. “We’re aiming to keep developing Curio into a regional network and beyond.”
Ben added, “We want to create a new frontier for artists and local creators and provide a new way for them to make it financially out here.”
Know someone who appreciates art? Or maybe wants this machine at their business? Use the buttons below to share this story with them.
Which local artist would you like to see featured in the Curio Machine?
Ideal candidates will be able to create 5 x 5 inch, flat + affordable pieces of art that can fit into a vending machine window.
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Roald Dahl's Matilda: The Musical | Fri., May 20-Sun., May 22 | 7-10 p.m. | Asheville High School Theatre, 419 McDowell St. | $15+ | The Asheville Performing Arts Academy performs a musical retelling of Roald Dahl’s story about a young girl with astonishing wit + psychokinetic powers. 🎭
Corsa Rally Departs Asheville | Fri., May 20 | 9:15-10:30 a.m. | The Omni Grove Park Inn, 290 Macon Ave. | Free | Come see 30+ exotic cars before they head towards Atlanta.
Memorial Day Sale | Fri., May 20-Tues., May 31 | 10 a.m.-5 p.m. | Enza Home Furnishings and Mattress Gallery, 25 Long Shoals Rd. | Save up to 50% off during the Memorial Day Sale.*
PATIO SHOW: Polly Panic + Bryan Colston | Sat., May 21 | 6 p.m. | The Grey Eagle | $10 | A high energy night of blues and hip hop. 🎶
Mardi Gras in May | Sat., May 21 | 1-5 p.m. | Aloft Asheville, 51 Biltmore Ave. | $10 | Celebrate with a local DJ, themed cocktails, and a decked-out pool.
Spring Market | Sat., May 21 | 11 a.m-4 p.m. | Pack Square Parking Garage, 26 Biltmore Ave. | Free | The top level of the Pack Square Parking Garage comes alive with local makers, artists, and food vendors.
Napa Valley Wine | Sat., May 21 | 10 p.m.-1 a.m. | Little Jumbo Bar, 241 Broadway St. | Wine cocktails with a dance party. 🍷
Makers Market + Warehouse Sale | Sat., May 21 | 10 a.m.-6 p.m. | Atelier Maison & Co., 121 Sweeten Creek, Ste. #50 | Asheville’s monthly market of art + design, featuring vendors and artisans selling housewares, vintage clothing + more — enjoy 40-70% off with the Warehouse Sale.*
Mind Your Plastic May Benefit Concert | Sun., May 22 | 2-10 p.m. | French Broad Outfitters, 230 Hominy Creek Rd. | Free | Join Asheville GreenWorks, French Broad Outfitters, and local musicians Grant Southwick + Jill Stewart for a groove-filled day of music, food trucks, lawn games, and local beverages. ♻️
- Access the Groove | Sun., May 22 | 1-5 p.m. | The Grey Eagle | $15 | Join a variety of artists, entrepreneurs, and local agencies that support disability justice, equity, and inclusion. 🎶
Colombian Cumbia | Sun., May 22 | 6-8 p.m. | American Vinyl Co., 217 Coxe Ave. | $30+ | Join Dr. Juan G. Sánchez-Martinez in celebrating Colombian music + culture through an interactive multimedia experience.
We have a monthly guide filled with events + activities you can plan for in advance. Click the button below to bookmark ideas for upcoming date nights, family outings, and time with friends.
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- 90º | Sunny | 10% chance of rain
It’s official. Haywood Street Community Development has closed on its $1.3 million land acquisition. The 0.86-acre property, located at 343 and 357 West Haywood St., aims to house 45 units of permanently affordable housing. (Asheville Citizen-Times)
The Blue Ridge Honor Flight, a program that takes World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War veterans to visit memorials in Washington, DC, will host a welcome home celebration for participating veterans on Sat., May 21, 7 p.m at the Asheville Regional Airport. Learn more via this Mountain Xpress feature. ✈️
- In other veteran-related news, the City of Asheville + Buncombe County will host a Memorial Day Ceremony on
Mon., May 30 at 3 p.m. at the Roger McGuire Green
in Pack Square Park. The ceremony will feature short readings by Brothers And Sisters Like These and a keynote from retired US Army Chaplain Spencer Hardaway.
In-person story time will return to Buncombe County Public Libraries starting next week. Free story programs will be available for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and bilingual speakers throughout Buncombe County. See the full schedule.
Young Struggle, a local nonprofit that provides support for youth, single mothers, folks experiencing homelessness, and domestic violence survivors, will have a fundraising dinner on Sat., May 21, 4-8 p.m. at 8 River Arts Pl. For a $15 donation, chow down on chicken + gravy or ham, potatoes, and green beans.
Poetry and stargazing — what could be dreamier? On Tues., May 24 at 7 p.m., Tryon Fine Arts Center will host poets Kathy Ackerman, Skye Barkschat, Donna Beal, Nancy Holmes, Greg Lobas, Lee Mink, and Lee Stockdale for its Poetry Under the Stars event. Get tickets. ✨
Don’t tell Dracula. The 35th annual Operation Blood Drive takes place Thurs., June 30 at American Legion Post 70, Trinity Baptist Church, and other WNC locales. All types of blood donors are invited and will receive a t-shirt, tote bag, food, and a $10 gift card. Schedule an appointment. 🩸
Fact or fiction? Coffee grounds can be disposed of in the sink drain. See the answer + brush up on more dos and don’ts to keep your drains clear, plus the best way to clean them if they do get clogged.*
Bonjour, Asheville. Learning a new language can feel difficile (that’s French for “hard”) but with Babbel, it doesn’t have to be. Their bite-size, ten-minute lessons are designed to fit your lifestyle, and right now, you can get 60% off your subscription.*
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The annual farm tour + pottery show Flowers & Clay (slated for July 23-24) is stepping up its game this summer with the launch of a more intimate and highly gourmet Flowers & Clay Farm Dinner event.
On Sat., July 23 — just as thousands of sunflowers come into bloom at the Carolina Flowers farm — Chefs Camille Cogswell and Drew DiTomo of the forthcoming Walnut Family Bakery will prepare a family-style supper in the middle of the flower field.
Other gorgeous details of the night include: dining upon handmade plates by Copus Ceramics, a chance to pick sunflowers, plenty of natural wine + non-alcoholic concoctions, and a sneak peek at what’s to come with the Walnut Bakery. Tickets go on sale Tues., May 24 at 9 a.m.
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Editor's pick: Friendly reminder that Pop Bubble Tea has its grand opening today from 12-8 p.m. I got to a sample a few of the beverages ahead of time, and they were tealicious — especially the “Universal Love,” which comes with lychee, passion fruit soda, and star-shaped jelly that bursts delightfully in your mouth. Find it at 640 Merrimon Ave. inside The Hop Ice Cream Cafe.
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