Cranking out local art

In Microtones, our newsletter-first column.

In Microtones, our newsletter-first column. 

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MICROTONES by Scott Gordon, editor-in-chief and publisher

Madison artist/designer Lauden Nute’s latest project turns the work of local artists into something of an impulse buy. Nute recently installed a gumball machine at Good Style Shop on East Johnson Street and stocked it with 1-inch pinback buttons he made featuring art by Luluweird DesignShelby KahrClaire Warhus, street artist Meep, and Nute’s own American Trash moniker. (A few buttons with the Good Style logo are in there for good measure.) Put in two quarters, crank the handle, and out pops a little plastic pod with a tiny art surprise inside.

This is the first of several “Madison Artists Pin Spin” machines Nute would like to put up around town, and he plans to rotate artists in and out over time. “I feel like a lot of artists here are overlooked and this is an easy way to get everything out,” Nute says. “And they move around, so people see them and they ask questions.”

Nute, who is also the vocalist for Madison hardcore band No Question and has done some design work for Tone Madison, tracked down the Rhino brand vending machine himself, and he had to obtain a supply of the plastic capsules from one of the few companies that sells them. (If you buy a button at Good Style, you can hand the plastic bit back for later re-use.) He created the art for the front of the machine—complete with a “choking hazard” warning that seems to be more for laughs than for safety—and tried to match the feel of the store itself while drawing inspiration from the goofy prize machines that dotted the pizza places and buffet restaurants of his youth.


The most important part about this low-commitment, 50-cent transaction is that you don’t control what you’re getting. In stocking the machine with the 260 capsules it can hold, Nute went to great pains to maintain this element of chance. “I filled this whole thing up and dumped it out onto my couch and them put them back in there, and did that four more times to make it be as random as possible,” Nute says. On a recent visit, I still somehow managed to get two of Martin’s buttons in a row, but I’m not complaining.

In the future, Nute says he’d also like to have a sticker machine stocked with local art, and a cigarette machine that sells cassettes. Look for the next pin machine to pop up soon at Communication.


New this week:

Multimedia artist Toby Kaufmann-Buhler talks with us about what to expect from his October 26 performance at Communication.

On the podcast, Phoebe Schlough asks percussionist Mandjou Mara about his musical upbringing in Guinea and his experiences playing and teaching in Madison.

Grant Phipps catches up with Lucas Gadke of Toronto experimental doom trio Völur, who play October 27 at the Gates of Heaven.

Madison musician Bucky Pope made some new music with Mike Watt for a Record Store Day Black Friday release.

Elsewhere on the Madison internet: Madison comedian Johnny Walsh gets a shout-out from Thrillist. This fuckin’ guy is running again. Bonny Doon will be back for a November 2 show at the Rathskeller. WORT-FM checks in on the Madison Public Library’s Living History Project.

This week’s Madison calendar: The low-budget horror classic Basket Casescreens at UW Cinematheque. Big Freedia plays Freakfest. Saxophonist Anders Svanoe celebrates yet another new album of original music. Shannon And The Clams play the High NoonAnd more.   

An ode to the best and worst of Madison summers.

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