The Free Art Machine (by Chicago the Beautiful)

The above link is their official website, and it has almost no information.

However, Chicago the Beautiful currently has a Kickstarter running where they explain it:

The intrepid inventors at Chicago The Beautiful have produced a marvelous machine, a Free Art Machine. This incredible instrument, this miraculous mechanism, produces free art fantastically for just a dollar a unit! But we need your help to kickstart the Free Art Machine and keep it running...

The Free Art Machine is a project envisioned by two Chicago artists and their arts initiative, Chicago The Beautiful. The goal of the project is to produce thousands of pieces of free art made with public submissions, for distribution in various creative ways. The project will support local Chicago artists while simultaneously cultivating art appreciation. (Bolding mine)
Interesting. I was curious to learn how they are supporting local Chicago artists.

Artists can reach art-lovers via the Free Art Machine. When the art-lover finds a piece that speaks to them, they can pull it off the wall and keep it. The artist's information will be on the back of the block, putting the art consumer in direct contact with their new favorite artist. They will then have the opportunity to view and purchase more work from that artist.
Okay, that's nice, I guess. A little acknowledgement of the artists on the back of Chicago the Beautiful's wall-mounted art blocks. But surely this cannot be the extent of their "support of local Chicago artists." This is nothing more than the notorious "exposure," which as has been demonstrated elsewhere is of little merit or worth.

Sadly, this does seem to be what they mean by "support" of local artists. They certainly do not mean to pay them:

We believe art is free.
Oh dear.

All pledges are divided 50/50 between free art and the production of rewards.

- 50% toward production of free art pieces: At $1 per unit, $100 will produce 100 pieces of free art. If we meet our kickstarter goal, the Free Art Machine will produce 4000 pieces of free art for distribution in cafes, art galleries, and at unique events. As an example, if we receive $50,000, the Free Art Machine will produce 25,000 pieces of free art.

- 50% toward production of rewards: The funds received for production of the rewards includes minimal labor costs, ensuring that even with a massive number of orders our hand-made products will be delivered on time. Local Chicago artists and artisans can quickly be employed to help with the timely production of your rewards.


The rewards will be hand-crafted products and services produced by the two artists who first envisioned the project, plus free art produced by the Free Art Machine.
In other words, all of the money is going to pay for the making of the laminated blocks, 50% for the project and 50% for the Kickstarter backers.

No pay is going to any of the artists who are expected to provide the "massive numbers" of images these people expect to use.

This entire project is predicated on getting thousands of images royalty-free from artists. Merely acknowledging the artists somewhere in the project is hardly compensation for this.

The Free Art Machine by Chicago the Beautiful is a perfect example of a terrible deal for artists painted in the colors of altruism and exposure.

As many a rueful artist has said: people die from exposure.