WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., March 23, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- It began in 1997 in Winston-Salem, NC as a solo art show at a local café, featuring a renovated cigarette machine that dispensed art. Artist Clark Whittington created and sold 50 art blocks for just $1 each.
Today, Whittington's refurbished cigarette machines – dubbed Art-o-mats – have taken on its own cult status with locations around the world. More than 61,000 pieces of art about the size of a cigarette pack were sold in 2016.
To mark its 20th anniversary, SECCA is hosting several events planned during an exhibit from April 20 to Aug. 27 organized by Whittington and SECCA Installation Manager Cliff Dossel and SECCA curator Cora Fisher. The 20 Years of Art-o-mat Retrospective Exhibit includes a media preview on April 18, opening night reception on April 20 and an Art-o-mat Collector's Swap Meet on June 10. That's where avid collectors can meet up to exchange art pieces, including many unique and rare pieces.
Whittington began Art-o-mat in the same town where tobacco was once king. Originally conceived as a pop-up art installation, it now features an international network of more than 300 artists creating original pieces of art for the machines.
The machines have been on display at such art institutions as the Smithsonian American Art Museum of Art and the Andy Warhol Museum.
Whittington explains, " Part of the allure is the thrill of discovery. The placards describe the contents but you don't discover the art until you hold it in your hand."
As an ode to its populist roots, Art-o-mat art blocks are priced at just $5 so the art is accessible to everyone.
The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, N.C. seeks to enhance perspectives, inspire community and ignite new ideas at the intersection of art and its visitors. SECCA is an affiliate of the North Carolina Museum of Art, a division of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources. SECCA receives operational funding from The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. Additional funding is provided by the James G. Hanes Memorial Fund.
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SOURCE Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art