Thursday, December 23, 1999
Fifteen years ago, KAZU 90.3 FM radio program coordinator Brita Heizmann owned an art gallery in her native Germany. She installed a vending machine which, in previous times, used to dispense eggs, wrapped carefully in paper. In her gallery, however, the machine dispensed tiny pictures.
In June of last year, Heizmann brought her successful idea to Pacific Grove. She bought an old snack vending machine from Chuck Bosso in Monterey, placed it on the sidewalk outside KAZU''s office on Central Avenue, and filled it with postcard-sized art by local artists. Each work of original--if tiny--art sells for the same price: $3.50.
"What I want to show with this vending machine is that art can be affordable, accessible and inexhaustible," says Heizmann. "Art is essential, like the food that used to be sold [from this machine], and nourishing, like food for the mind."
The 15 slots in the refurbished vending machine display the miniature pictures of four to five well-known local artists. Recent artists have included Robin Winfield, Andrew Jackson and Big Sur painter Sofanya.
Pieces may not exceed a certain size--five-and-a-half inches by one-half inch by three inches--and may be made of any material except glass. "This is like in olden days when art was measured by the inch to show [or determine] its value and price," explains Heizmann.
A recent artwork by "Winnie" Robin Winfield purchased from the machine is a tiny collage of embroidery, snowflake-shaped metal, and a stamp.
Winfield, who has a blues show on KAZU on Wednesday afternoons, paints and sells her much larger works from her home studio in Carmel. "I''m not doing it for the money," she says. "It takes so much time. It gives me a chance to have fun, and I get to recycle things from other projects. I used beads and ribbons on some because I''m also sewing now. The machine''s a great idea."
Each piece of art for sale in the Art By The Inch vending machine is an original, created just like the artist''s full-scale watercolors or pen-and-inks, with one catch--they sell for hundreds or thousands of dollars less. Both Heizmann and Winfield mention how easy it is to pick up one as a last-minute gift.
"Art is not like flowers or wine, which don''t last. Art isn''t just for house decoration or for collecting large pieces," says Heizmann.
So affordable, in fact, are these tiny treasures, it requires only a handful of coins to purchase one. The machine won''t take any more than $3.50, so be sure to bring plenty of quarters (it doesn''t take dollar bills either).
Heizmann says she''s always looking for new artists to participate. "The vending machine is a way for artists to get known," she says. "Also, artists are hidden, working at home. This can be an outreach."
Between June and November, 30 art pieces have been sold through the vending machine, according to Heizmann, and the artists receive all the profits, minus the sales tax. Still, she''s having trouble getting more artists to provide pieces for the machine. "Some of them think the price is too cheap," she notes.