Visitors to The Marco Island Center for the Arts’ Winterberry Drive facility have an innovative new way to buy art. The center’s new Art-o-mat© machine is an art installation made from a repurposed cigarette machine that offers guests an easy and affordable way to own a small piece of handmade art.
The Center for the Arts joins more than 100 venues nationwide that house one of these unique machines. Located in the atrium, the new addition offers genuine small pieces of art, which make perfect gifts or mementos.
The inspiration for Art-o-mat© came to artist Clark Whittington while observing a friend who had a Pavlovian response to the crinkle of cellophane. When the friend heard someone opening a snack, he had the uncontrollable urge to have one, too. Whittington used a recently banned cigarette machine to create the first Art-o-mat© as part of a solo exhibition in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in 1997. The machine sold Whittington’s black-and-white photographs mounted on blocks and wrapped in cellophane for one dollar each. When the exhibition concluded, the gallery the owner, Cynthia Giles, loved the machine so much that she asked that it stay permanently. Giles introduced Whittington to a handful other local artists to provide additional pieces for the Art-o-mat© and the group Artists in Cellophane (AIC) was formed.