[Clark Whittington] has given them a new life. He's found machines that date to the 1940s at junkyards, through vending companies and even on eBay. Operating from his basement, Whittington doesn't do a hard sell on the machines; when he gets an opportunity to install one, he does. He made contact with Fresh Fields in Washington through connections with his local Whole Foods Market (the parent company of Fresh Fields), which also has an Art*o*mat. The machine headed for the District is an early-'70s model with a stained-glass front featuring an owl and a bright orange moon. Cigarette burns give the fake wood finish real authenticity.
Fresh Fields will put the machine next to Customer Service, where lovers of tiny art can get change for a fiver. The machine will also take the new "golden dollar" coins. Half the $5 price will go to the artist, $1.50 to Whittington for machine upkeep and $1 to a local charity, the Millennium Arts Center in Southwest.
In all, he has more than 125 "artists in cellophane" from five countries. The D.C. machine, however, will focus on local artists; interested artists can submit samples of their work directly to Whittington; contact information is on his Web site. So far, says Whittington, artists have responded enthusiastically; 14 of the machine's 20 slots have been filled.
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