WASHINGTON -- The Art-o-mat machine has been vending miniature masterpieces in a variety of venues for more than a decade. Now Art-o-mat has made a new conquest: the Smithsonian American Art Museum in the nation's capital.
In 1997, Clark Whittington, a Winston-Salem, NC, artist, adapted a retired cigarette machine to vend original works of art the size of a pack of smokes and found a home for it in a local cafe. His mission: to help fellow artists present their work to audiences they would not otherwise reach.
Whittington went on to breathe new life into nearly 100 cigarette venders that have been installed in sites ranging from museums and universities to health food stores, boutiques and bookstores throughout the country and abroad.
A network of more than 400 artists from around the world supplies paintings, ceramics, prints and jewelry that typically sell for $5 through the machines.
See the transformation of the late 1950s National Consoline cigarette vender into the Smithsonian Art-o-mat on Facebook.