Nearly 25 years after their inception, Art-o-mat machines remind us how important art is to humankind.

Twenty-three years into his project of converting old cigarette vending machines into dispensers of tiny pieces of original art — called Art-o-mats — Clark Whittington, founder of Artists in Cellophane, is more convinced than ever of the valuable role art plays in our lives and communities.

“Art is the most necessary unnecessary thing our culture has,” he says.Whittington stumbled into this business in 1997 when he held an art show at Penny Universitie (a café in Winston-Salem) that included a converted vending machine dispensing black and white photos for $1. The idea was inspired by a friend who mentioned […]


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