Clark Whittington deserves a medal, or some such high honor, for his unique, ongoing contribution to Winston-Salem’s art scene.
Whittington is the founder and “chief operator” of Art-o-mat, which oversees the creative re-purposing of decommissioned cigarette vending machines to dispense compact pieces of art. The machines are leased to museums and other public venues across the country, allowing patrons to buy original artworks for only $5 each.
It’s a clever concept that Whittington has spent the past 23 years pursuing for all it’s worth, resulting in one of this city’s most brilliantly quirky artistic success stories.
Whittington commissions artists to redecorate the machines, then he stocks them with cigarette-pack-sized artworks, or pieces that will fit in cardboard packages of that size. Because they’re wrapped in cellophane like 20-count cigarette packs, Whittington early on dubbed his network of suppliers “Artists in…