Would You Buy Art from a Vending Machine? Matthew Brinston Hopes So

Dallas artist Matthew Brinston hopes to democratize art with a traveling vending machine.EXPAND
Dallas artist Matthew Brinston hopes to democratize art with a traveling vending machine.
Matthew Brinston
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The mighty vending machine holds many of life’s greatest wonders. It’s always there whenever you desperately need a bag of Doritos, a pack of gum or simply a solid object to lean on while you gossip with your co-workers in the office break room. Yet we so often take it for granted.

Earlier this year, one particular vending machine got even more wonderful when Dallas-based multimedia artist Matthew Brinston came along. “A lot of young people wanted to buy my work but couldn’t afford what I typically make in my studio,” Brinston tells us. “I was also fed up with rude galleries coat-tailing and creating a point of access to my work to people that wouldn’t normally show up to a gallery exhibit.”

The artist in his studioEXPAND
The artist in his studio
Matthew Brinston

The artist bought one of the humble machines and transformed it into a gallery. “It’s a fun concept, an in-the-moment romance that this machine provides,” he said. “We filled it up with small drawings I make at breakfast every morning on leftover canvas and small reproductions of my large-scale paintings.”

The artist has also teamed up with local clothing brand IDKIDC who added some “Texas shit” to the machine. The brand specializes in hats, patches and shirts embroidered with fun phrases like “the north Dallas,” “Dallas high life,” “Dirk,” “Texxan,” etc. Brinston says these items are among his favorite pieces for sale in the machines.

In 2013, Brinston was involved in a motorcycle accident that left him with a traumatic brain injury, and he technically died for several minutes during an operation after the accident.

Since then, Brinston has become well-known for finding creative ways to share his art with the world as a way to give back. In past years, he used to leave his work in random spots around Dallas, disclosing their location to his social media followers so that anyone interested could go find them and take them home.

Since its inception in March 2019, Brinston’s art-dispensing vending machine, which has been dubbed the Vending Vessel, has continued to expand. The artist tells us that sales are “BOOMING.” The first Vessel was placed in a clothing shop in the Bishop Arts District, and then moved to Good Records on Greenville Avenue. Once Good Records moved to Garland Road, the Vessel made its way to Dibs on Victory in Victory Park.

Today, there are seven Vending Vessels, some of which are located around town, from Oak Cliff to Fort Worth. Brinston took to social media earlier this week teasing a possible new location for the delightful dispensaries.

He plans to expand this concept beyond DFW — the Vessel has gotten inquiries from cities including Los Angeles, New York and Tokyo. “I want to incorporate other artists I like in this project too,” Brinston says. “Ironically I see this performance taking place in a white-walled gallery with seven Vending Vessels that sell all the work in the show ...”

Art just doesn't get more accessible than this.

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