Pull Tab Artist Turns Gambling Into Sculpture

by Seth Jovaag
| July 30, 2015
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Artists can draw inspiration from just about anywhere. A few years ago in Madison, middle school teacher and artist Jo Jensen found hers piled on the counter of a local tavern.

"I got divorced uh, a few years ago – oh god, four years ago now - and at the time, it was sort of like, oh man, I can't stay home here all alone, I gotta get out," says Jensen.

Some friends invited her to go to a local tavern with them that had pull-tab machines. 

"These pull tabs are about 1.5 by maybe 3.5 inches, and there's five little tabs on ‘em and you peel back the tabs and under the tabs there’s all these little icons. And if you get three of the same you win some money. And depending upon what the icon is, (that's), you know, tells you if you won a buck or 200 bucks," says Jensen.

To Jensen, the pull tabs looked like fish scales. With so many puled around the bar, she started thinking what she could make them with them. She stuck with that fish idea.

"So the first thing I made was this big bass jumping out of the water chomping a wallet that had a 100 dollar bill coming out of it," Jensen says. "It was very realistic looking fish except that it had pull tabs for scales."

Part of what Jensen enjoys about the work is making something out of nothing. 

"It's making something out of loss," explains Jensen. "I didn't have to pay for it, and you know, I'm a little cheap."



Tags: pull tab / art / sculpture / gambling / bar / pull tab artist / fish / scales

Seth Jovaag is a journalist and independent radio producer.