CHARLOTTE, NC -- To mark its 80th year in business, Canteen Vending, the nationwide vending unit of Compass Group, has signed on as the first vending company to support the arts by sponsoring an Art*o*mat. Housed in Canteen's North American headquarters in Charlotte, the retired cigarette vending machine has been restored and converted to vend miniature one-of-a-kind works of art the size of cigarette boxes.
The machine features the works of 22 artists, which vend for $5 apiece. Canteen said it is extending an open invitation to "artists, art lovers and the simply curious" from the Charlotte community to visit its offices and use the vender.
More than 400 artists from nearly a dozen countries participate in the Art*o*mat project, which has 85 active machines in various locations throughout the country. It's the brainchild of artist Clark Whittington, who founded Artists in Cellophane in 1997 after he was inspired by a friend's notable enjoyment when unwrapping the cellophane from a snack. He endeavored to ignite the same satisfaction in patrons when they purchased art from a vending machine.
"Canteen is the first vending company to validate what I do. The Art*o*mat doesn't just sell art; it is providing a service by creating connections, and feeding your soul," said Whittington.
"We thought this was the perfect opportunity to support the arts since there is a natural affinity between Canteen and Art*o*mat," said Cynthia Karst, director of marketing for Canteen. "What Clark does is innovative, fun and 'green,' as he recycles old machines and gives them new life."