Molotovs are assembled with a purpose of resistance, revolution, or even renaissance. They are a reconstruction of found materials with the purpose of reconstructing that at which they are aimed. Even when they are assembled with ironic or creative intent, their purpose is to make a statement, almost always in the face of oppression. Great artists also imbue their artworks with this same resistance to the status quo, and similarly to a Molotov, these works are made by sourcing readily available materials, filled with courage and kerosene. Artworks of resistance set ablaze the minds of viewers, igniting a creative fire of inspiration that things can change, and that prior traditions and systems of power can be burned down, reassembled, and replaced with new ones in their stead. As artists, we take this fire and burn down what is old and dead. We choose what will rise in its place.

A Molotov cocktail is an inherently bold object. The Molotov explodes because it fills with so much pressure from its own heat that it must release violently, and many of the works of art in this exhibition are created with the same need for liberation. There is a freedom in this release of pent up heat and energy, and because of it – as well as the found object nature of the materials that make them – Molotov cocktails are a symbol of liberty. The fire that fills and floods from these objects also bears independence; many legends tell of stealing this fire from gods to gain free will for the people.

“We Stole the Fire” is a group art show that will take place both in gallery and on the street, while stealing space from one environment and reconstructing it in the other, a concept born during our current Post-Street Art moment. The exhibit steals from advertising traditions, public space, old systems, historic art movements, passed down legends, and perceived truths to reconfigure these things into something that is more useful today. We must steal and recontextualize these ideas so that they may value everyone with their power. The very concept of “everyone” is one that is at risk beneath our current regime, and like the gods in legends of every ancient culture, they keep the fire from us so that they may use it to control us. We aim to steal that fire.




The Instagram and media darling of our 2018 "We Stole the Fire" experience was our Molotov cocktail vending machine, themed after Silencio's "RENEGADA" campaign elements. Living on the corner of Melrose Ave and Martel, the Molotov cocktail vending machine sold out of artworks as fast as we could stock the machine – artworks made from Silencio's used mezcal bottles. They sold out so fast that more than one random person started buying out the machine and flipping the product online for 10x their asking price. 

The Molotov cocktail vending machines are sculptural installations created for site-specific locations in numerous cities across the US. The first vending machine, created by artist Phil America and Think Tank Gallery, was installed on Melrose Ave in Los Angeles, California. The machine was fully functional, built from a modified old school vending machine to stay in line with the experience and message, and dispensed handmade Molotov cocktail ‘artworks’ for $5 each. In the end, every single bottle that was made sold out, amounting to hundreds of bottles distributed mainly to strangers to both Think Tank Gallery and Mezcal El Silencio who just so happened to be wandering down the street and wondering, "wait, is this real?"

A large portion of proceeds went to Everytown to help guide responsible gun regulations. Each bottle is numbered and wrapped with a spot-UV instructional sticker and a custom “STEAL THE FIRE” bandana, designed by artist Phil America and designer and art director Dino Nama.

The Los Angeles iteration of this series is titled "What’s More American Than Violence?" and is part of a larger series of dysfunctional artworks inspired by Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang

While disruptive and placed on the street with little warning, the piece gathered some press, including an ABC news segment (below) as well as some publications and blogs. But the real power was in the hundreds of thousands of impressions from The People that the piece aimed to target directly – evident through their Instagram posts. 

Through a national campaign cast across five to eleven cities at the same time, the project looks to grab people's attention both in the physical space and through media and social media. A dedicated #hashtag, website, and interactive call to action beginning with instructions in the "HOW TO USE" portion of the bottles themselves will drive attention to one place as well as empower the viewer to become a part of the project. 


“What’s More American Than Violence?” is a sculptural installation by Los Angeles-based artist Phil America and Think Tank Gallery, part of a series of hand-painted, fully-functional vending machines that dispense Molotov cocktails. The sculptures are set up at strategic, site-specific locations and the machines respond conceptually to their direct surroundings. Viewers are encouraged to purchase Molotov cocktails, which cost $5.00, with the proceeds going towards a non-profit organization or charitable cause that fits the messaging. For the Los Angeles iteration, Phil America selected Everytown as the beneficiary.

Each bottle dispensed is carefully designed: a heavy black or clear alcohol bottle that has been relabelled in stark contrast with the word MOLOTOV emblazoned across the front of it. Though they are static, they bear implicit motion, aggression and action that has drastically shaped entire countries’ histories. They are mechanisms of sociopolitical violence, and the viewer is able to hold this reconfigured item in their hand and question their own position in the balance of power. The Molotov cocktail is the most iconic symbol of revolution that mankind may possess, but the modern revolution is more complex, and often accomplished in a myriad of ways that range from voting to protesting thanks to new powers stolen from the gods by The People in the Information Age.


“What’s More American Than Violence?” and the other vending machines in this series simultaneously become monument and relic, exemplifying violent consumer culture and at the same time, marking it as cliche. The works allude to early Jeff Koons works “The Pre-New” and “The New”, using a visual language of Americana within repurposed display cases, as well as Claes Oldenburg’s immersive 1961 work, “The Store” in its natural integration of art and commodified function. The series is inspired by American motels and truck stops and traditional sign painting, with each one hand-painted with quotes and iconography taken from and Inspired by Edward Abbey’s 1975 book The Monkey Wrench Gang.

The series aims to inform viewers of the power for free thought and potential revolution available to them at any moment of their lives, and the power of their dollars to influence this country and the world. The primary source of its power comes from the unlikely collaboration with a corporate entity in Mezcal El Silencio to commission these bold and revolutionary statements while utilizing Silencio's trash as the main ingredient of every keepsake.




Five machine artworks purchased outright, including full licensing rights;
Phil America will provide instructions on how the piece should be presented in each use.
Customized per city with vending machine selection, site-specific design, and unique MOLOTOV labels.
Molotov bottle assembly included, bottles to be provided by Silencio.



Ten machine artworks purchased outright, including full licensing rights;
Phil America will provide instructions on how the piece should be presented in each use.
Customized per city with vending machine selection, site-specific design, and unique MOLOTOV labels.
Molotov bottle assembly included, bottles to be provided by Silencio.



In all cases, intellectual property belongs to Phil America and Think Tank Gallery,
and artworks may not be replicated or altered by any other artist.
Moving costs are not included since we don't know where they're going.


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