Bubblegum Machines With Collectible Mini Art

Kristi K. Higgins
The Progress-Index

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As Kristi Higgins reports, “Wearable art is now available at Hopewell and Prince George Breez-In convenience stores. Deposit fifty cents in a gumball machine, turn the handle, open the door, and retrieve mini art created by local artists.”


Wearable art is now available at Hopewell and Prince George Breez-In convenience stores. Deposit fifty cents in a gumball machine, turn the handle, open the door, and retrieve mini art created by local artists.

Instead of bubble gum, capsules include an art button/pin with a short artist bio. Some buttons feature downtown Hopewell murals and artwork from “The Hopewell Billboard Project.”

“The goals of the button project are to build community pride, expand the knowledge that art is happening in our area and that the Tri-Cities is home to many talented local artists,” Lamb Center for Arts and Healing [Lamb Arts] Co-Founder and Executive Director Dr. Eliza Lamb said. “With this project, we are expanding the concept of creative care for our community.”

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Full-time studio artist Aimee Joyaux who lives and works in a renovated cotton warehouse in Petersburg with her husband Alain and hound dog Oliver is a huge fan of Lamb.

“I think she is brilliant,” Joyaux said.

Joyaux’s recent painting titled “Sing, Sing, Pray, Pray, Sing Pray Sing” was selected for the project. According to Joyaux, the affirmation, included along with her art, is about finding joy, looking for the silver lining and celebrating love.

Members of the community and participants in Lamb Center for the Arts and Healing’s teen leadership program Creative Change Makers generated the positive affirmations/fortunes found within the capsules.

This is not the first time Joyaux has shared her art for a good cause.

“I’ve made artwork for the Art-O-Mat, a former cigarette machine, that now dispenses handmade art,” Joyaux shared. “These objects, like the pins, are also collected.”
Accessible art

Through partnerships with organizations like Breez-In, Lamb Arts is making art accessible in community members’ everyday lives. The art reflects back images of the community in a positive way.

Three buttons are pulled from Lamb Art’s 2020 billboard project which had the same cornerstone philosophy.

“We are so thrilled and touched by Breez-in’s heart for the community,” Lamb said. “This would not have been possible without them.”

“It’s a fun way for the local community to see the amazing art these artists created while learning more about the artist,” David M. Bogese, Chief Operating Officer, Breez-In Associates, L.C. said. “There is fun info about each artist on the back of the pin.”

Bogese and his team also like that the proceeds go directly to Lambs Arts.

“They have been great for the community,” Bogese said. “They engage with the youth to help them explore their potential artistic abilities.”

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“This project also makes the concept of collecting art accessible to all,” Lamb said. “For a couple of quarters, community members can start their own mini art collections.”

“Once we explain what is inside the machine and where the proceeds go, customers usually buy one,” Bogese shared. “It’s been a fun promotion that we’ve had in our stores. Our hope is to grow the exposure of Lamb Arts and all the great stuff they do.”

“Lamb Arts is always working on reflecting the community back to itself in a positive way and in celebrating the diversity of experiences and perspectives in our hometown,” Lamb said.

Lamb Arts was founded in 2016. The nonprofit is dedicated to helping underserved communities in Hopewell and the surrounding area thrive through accessible, high-quality arts programming and mind, body, spirit healing opportunities.

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Featured artists
“Dr. Lamb’s efforts to help raise artists up in the community is wonderful. Using buttons as a way to collect artists’ work and information about the artist sends such a positive message to the community in terms of the value of art and artists,” Pedro Ledesma III of Richmond said. “Art is accessible to everyone, so it’s very much inclusive for all to make art and be an artist.”

Ledesma, who works from home and the Visual Arts Center of Richmond, devotes his energy to visual storytelling through photography. His mixed Korean and Mexican heritage and extensive travel give him a great appreciation for culture and family.

Ledesma’s image taken from Randolph Road in downtown Hopewell is featured on one of the buttons.
“I came to Hopewell as a complete stranger and was drawn to Hopewell because of its beauty, history and community,” Ledesma said. “Many of my photos put Hopewell’s beauty on display with its natural assets and man-made environment, a combination that makes it a unique and beautiful home for its community.”

Hopewell native on the rise
“Teddy Blanks who grew up within a mile of the location of the Prince George button machine in Jordan Point now lives and works in New York City as a successful graphic designer,” Lamb shared. “In fact, he recently designed the opening credits for Lin Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights” and “Tick Tick Boom.”

The capsules also include miniature art by Lamb herself as well as Federico Infante, Ed Hatch, Joe Jones Jr., Austin “Auz” Miles, Brenay Brockenbrough and Nico Cathcart.

Drop by the Hopewell Breez-In at 930 Cousins Avenue or the Prince George Breez-In at 10101 James River Drive to purchase an inexpensive, unique gift for a loved one, neighbor, or friend. Valentine’s Day and Easter are just around the corner.

“Go full-on Pokémon with this one,” Lamb Arts posted on Facebook. “You gotta catch ’em all!”
— Kristi K. Higgins aka The Social Butterfly columnist is the trending topics and food Q&A reporter at The Progress-Index.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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