The Great Tomaso

and his Art Making Machines

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The Pushcart Exercise Bike and was in this show:

Movement! A kinetic sculpture exhibition

July 2011

The Clifton Cultural Art Center


Christian Benefiel (via an artist residency in Helsinki, Finland)

Billy Colbert (Washington, DC)

J. Daniel Graham (Georgetown, KY)

Joseph Hoffman (Columbus, OH)

Fred Ellenberger (Cincinnati, OH)

Tom Lohre (Cincinnati, OH)

Brad Meredith (Louisville, KY) &

internationally recognized TODT.

Man Powered Art Making Machines

The Sailing Ride, Tree limbs, Come-along, Tow straps, Plywood, 2010

Working on his art show about the sailing trip across the North Atlantic Tom felt he needed something to illustrate the occasional beating you take not only figuratively but also in reality. When the boat is beating up wind, you are slammed into the gunnels often. Broken ribs are not that uncommon. Broken relationships are not that uncommon either. The loved ones left onshore get beaten up emotionally. At first he thought he could make a “Mechanical Sailboat” like the “Mechanical Bull” you find in Texas Road Houses. His love of mobiles and thoughts of the movement you needed to simulate a sailboat lead him directly to a huge mobile suspended from a tree made of tree limbs. As the sailor-rider gets moved up and down and around by the grounds persons pulling ropes attached to the far ends of the limbs they are passed hot cups of coffee that gets spilled and occasionally a bucket of water is thrown on them. All the while they watch the video shot during the trip on a big sheet from a LCD projector. It should prove to be a fantastic event. Of course you will have to pay big bucks to ride but you will get the log book and DVD from the trip and maybe a piece of scrimshaw or oil painting of the sail.

The Flickr site with all the pushcart images

“Machines of Art” is three videos of machines making art. The first one is a small hand size art making machine that uses a windup motor driven four legged walking motion that drags a brush. The second art making machine is a remotely controlled four legged walking machine that paints with an arm holding a self loading brush. The last art making machine uses the Legos MindStorm Invention System to power a rotating eight color oil pastel head. It moves to a position, receives color information from a computer, applies the color and then moves to the next position. The 5000 dots take 18 hours to complete. Tom Lohre has been working since 1987 on automaton art making machines.

The Artisto Family of Art Machines
Tom began thinking seriously about using robotics to make painters in 1984. He was painting in Nantucket at the time and began ordering robotics parts from various sources and assembling them into mostly automatic paint dispensing reproduce colors but now see the advantage of sporadic output that varies according to the environment. 
His first robot that actually painted did not come until 1999 when he adapted a windup motor he got in a mechanical junk store in China Town NYC about 7 years earlier. He always wanted to do just this with the motor but it was not until he applied for a grant that he needed a real piece of art. The little machine dragged a brush across a piece of paper slowly and with  visual pain. Occasionally it would pick the brush up and it made the most amazing abstract works. 


Windup motor, brush, syringe, wire, 5.5”H x 3.5”W x 3.5L

Windo was the first art machine to perform in public.

Watercolor made by a windup craw 

Flying Pigs by Windo, Watercolor on paper, 23" x 16", February 3rd, 1999


Spiro is a mobile of two parts that rotates a brush around it centerline. It is powered by a propeller and hangs from the center post of the awing.


Mechino uses a windup motor to drive four flat legs shafts propelling it forward as it paints with a self-loading brush.


Jumpo uses a windup vibrator to make it jump across the paper. It paints in a pointillist manner using a self-loading brush.


Remote control circuits, motors, batteries, wire, brush, 12” x 6.5” x 5”

Tom’s second robot had to be bigger. He needed larger pieces and the little windup artist could only paint for a few inches until it needed to be wound up again. That is when he adapted a remote controlled car into another type of windup painter. This one used the drive motor to power the windup motor’s gearbox. The gearbox gave him four rotating shafts that operated the four little feet. But adjusting the length of the feet and the crank diameter the gearbox caused the robot to have a struggled walk. The new motorized version was quite a bit heavier and used an automatic loading brush. The process yielded a good operating machine along the lines of the previous windup artist.

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Painted by Remoto

This show was funded by the City of Cincinnati with a 2001 Individual Artist Grant in the amount of $3,500. Tom used the money to combine all his Art making robots into a show packaged in a Circus Side Show format.

Human Powered Art Making Machines

Tom later thought larger human powered art making machines would be more accessible to the public’s imagination so he built the sculpture making exercise bike, the flying bicycle and developed the pushcart.Now he feels that Art can be advanced with the application of Art related Science. Look for intelligent Art machines powered by vision analysis software in the near future. The first project out of the box will be a simple software program that will search the web, select images, filter them into a cohesive whole and print them out all while you are away from your computer.


Schupture Making Exerize Machine by Tom Lohre

Exercise bike with flywheel, tubing, brass bowl, copper tubing, plastic tubing, water pump, hardware; 5' x 3' x 6'; July 1st, 2000 

Exercise bike with flywheel, tubing, brass bowl, copper tubing, plastic tubing, water pump and hardware

Sculptura makes rock sculpture from a human powered waterfall. It uses an exercise bike to run a water pump that forces a small stream of water straight down five feet making a small rock erode into a sphere as it turns in another rock.

View Tom Lohre' locations of paintings painted from life in a larger map. More additions to come:()

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