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Herbert Hoover's crackers fit inside a pack of cigarettes. No, not
the former president's — the East Harlem-based visual artist's.
He'd been trying to figure out what he could sell in Art-O-Mats,
the 82 re-outfitted cigarette vending machines around the country
stocked with small objets d'art, each encased within an old ciga-
rette box. Inspiration struck at a gallery show where he saw [Lost
Toast], a bronze sculpture of a loaf of bread — the gleaming slices
inspired him to make the perfect trinket for a vending machine: a
lost-cast mold from a piece of food. He toyed with encasing vari-
ous edibles that would burn to ashes in the kiln, leaving behind a
shell into which molten metal could be poured and cooled, form-
ing a perfect replica, with a shelf life no preservatives could hope
to bestow. Via trial and error, Hoover quickly learned that snack
foods with docking holes, "you know, the 13 holes on a cracker,"
worked best. Soon he was turning out pewter saltines, pewter ice
cream sandwiches, and, once he got the hang of things, a pewter
wishbone. The saltines (available for $ in the Whitney Museum's Art-O-Mat) became the number one best seller, and fans now send
him photos of posed crackers in situ around the world.
Recently Hoover has been working on a series of copper- and
brass-plated candy corn, but we're partial to his fortune cookies,
for which he'll pen custom fortunes upon request. "Someone once
asked me if I could put a ring inside. I said, I 'Sure, but you'll never
get it out.' " Like a diamond, these cookies are forever.
"I also love this silver-dipped Saltine cracker that I got from the vending machine at the MoMA. I found a chain that slips through it, and I wear it as jewelry. People are always like, ''I love Saltines, too!'' I think it's kind of chic."
N o v e m b e r 2 6, 2 0 0 7
7 Questions for Herbert Hoover on Unbeige
click banner for interview.
M a r c h 1 2, 2 0 0 7
Art-O-Mat on the Rachael Ray Show
The community machine from Utrecht on 4th Ave and 11th Streen in NYC was hauled over to the Rachael Ray Show for a fun segment on vending machines. Rachael has a mild episode of vending rage. My cracker is on top, but has unfortunately fallen over so it's a bit hard to see.
F e b r u a r y,  2 0 0 7 Impulse Buys section of Jane Magazine
Crackers featured on the under $25 page! Get them on the Objects page.
J a n u a r y, 2 0 0 7. Art-O-Mat limited-edition artist book released.
At the other side of the spectrum sits Herbert Hoover's Cracker series. Hoover may be a talented pewter caster — he made the new knobs this Art-o-mat sports, but here he shows the worst of what happens when artists create factory-imitating products. Each "Cracker" is exactly that — a saltine dipped in pewter. —Steven Darson
They say all press is good press, but this guy really hated my work enough to suggest dipping real saltines into molten metal. Unfortunately, anyone who tries this at home in Detroit will get a face-full of exploding pewter lava and a trip to the facial reconstruction unit at the local burn center.
Seriously folks, never put anything into molten metal except more metal! I'd also suggest preheating the cold metal before adding.
SECCA Art*O*Mat machine with lavender cyanotype by Herbert Hoover. The faceplate will be on exhibit inside the machine for three months. After that, it will be auctioned by SECCA to help fund the museum programs.
O c t o b e r 2 6,  2 0 0 5 Art-O-Mat article in
The News Tribune (click for article) With my first $5 token, I get a brown box marked "Cracker" by an artist named Herbert Hoover of Harlem. Inside, folded in nifty silver bubble wrap, is an unmistakable Saltine cracker, cast in pewter, a neat-o bit of pop art to be served with Andy Warhol's soup cans. -Jen Graves, The News Tribune
What is Art-O-Mat?
Art*o*mats are retired cigarette vending machines that have been converted to vend art. There are about 76 active machines in various locations throughout the country.
(click here to find an art*o*mat.)
O c t o b e r   2 0 0 5 Blue Man Group moves their show, including my zoetropes, from the Luxor Theater to The Venitian Theater in Las Vegas.