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"Artists in Cellophane"

Art-O-Mat Hits Richmond


If you've been wondering what to keep in your breast pocket ever since you gave up cigarettes, "Artists in Cellophane" has an idea the Surgeon General would endorse.

Vintage cigarette vending machines, reincarnated to dispense pack-sized original artwork have recently been making appearances around the country. Soon one is coming to Richmond. The "Art-O-Mat" is the invention of installation artist Clark Whittington, of (where else but) Winston-Salem, N.C. His Art-O-Mats have been sited everywhere from grocery stores and truck stops to the Whitney Museum and the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City. Reaching diverse audiences, they offer everyone the chance to own some original art. For only $5 and a yank on the identifying "brand's" handle, a shrink-wrapped 2 1/8 inch-by-3 3/8-inch-by-7/8-inch pack of visual inspiration is awaiting purchase. It might be a tiny book in a box, a painting on a wood block, a found-object collage, a soap carving, a piece of origami ... anything.

Richmond's own Art-O-Mat will first appear at 1708 Gallery for the month of December before moving to a permanent location at Salomon Inc. on West Cary Street.

"Artists in Cellophane" are currently looking for others to join their pack. Artists who are interested in participating in this internationally developing project must adhere to stated size constraints, make a minimum series of 20 works (filling one dispenser column), and be willing to accept between $2-$3 per sale. A prototype of every design must initially be submitted to Clark Whittington to determine the quality and viability of the idea. Reach him on his Web site at or by phone at (336) 774-0717. Proposal deadline is November 9th. Installation begins November 30. Got a match?

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