Fairwinds Florist in Blue Hill is the place for an ‘Art Box Party’

Killer Road Trip: A vintage cigarette dispenser that doles out tiny art

Tue, 07/30/2019 - 8:45am

    BLUE HILL—If you’re looking for a fun little road trip this summer no farther than an hour from the Midcoast, Fairwinds Florist, a shop in Blue Hill, is an artistic destination with a whimsical attraction.  On the left side of the shop stands a vintage cigar machine. Instead of cigarettes, however, the glass partition for each knob reveals a tiny piece of art made by a local artist. For $15 you get a token to feed to the machine; the choice of artist is yours.

    There’s a childlike feeling to tapping a coin in the slot, pulling the knob and watching a little white box slip out into the metal tray. You don’t know what you’ll get exactly, but the surprise is worth it.

    On Monday, July 22, Fairwinds held an “Art Box Party” to celebrate the sixth anniversary of The Art Box and to invite people to try out the vending machine.

    The Art Box is the idea of Michele Levesque and Michael Rossney, owners of EL EL FRIJOLES Mexican food a taqueria in Sargentville and Makers’ Market Shop & Studio in Brooksville.

    “The cigarette machine dispensing art is not my idea,” said Levesque. “It’s an idea we came across in Chicago from a machine in a place called The Artomat and I was really intrigued, so I bought a piece. It stayed in the back of my head for awhile and we decided to find our own vintage cigarette machine and offer art that was more local. We wanted to do something for the artists of the peninsula and advertise their work a little, as well as provide an affordable way for people to collect art. We’ve got kids who come in here and are already art collectors because of the Art Box.”

    Levesque and Rossney are artists whose work The Art Box dispenses.

    “We currently have 11 artists that are involved with the project and sometimes we have artists who rotate through, but 11 is about all I can handle,” said Levesque. “ Every artist except for one lives here right here on the peninsula.”

    Art ranges from hand-painted wood blocks, mixed media, altered books, found object sculpture, textiles, photography, handmade tiny books and other personalized items that can fit into the regulated sized box. For more backstory on the individual artists visit: The Art Box

    One of the artists on hand that evening was Amelia Poole, who makes encaustic collages by layering vintage book pages and drawings with wax and resin. One particular piece that Carol Gregor of Brooksville bought through the vending machine was constructed from old handwritten letters.

    Poole was happy to discover that someone had chosen her artwork, so she explained what it was: “This is a son in Korea writing back home to his father, in Bangor, named Sterling Diamond in 1951.”

    “Sterling Diamond! What a name,” said Gregor.

    The Art Box is a permanent feature of Fairwinds Florist shop. You don’t have to wait for one of their artist receptions; you  can come in at any time and purchase a token to get some art from the cigarette machine. $10 of the purchase goes to the artist.

    Kay Stephens can be reached at