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Gum On The Wall

Beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder.

When I first heard about the Gum Wall in Seattle, I was really intrigued.

The Market Theatre Gum Wall is a local landmark in downtown Seattle. It’s a brick alleyway wall now covered in used chewing gum.  Parts of the wall are covered several inches thick, fifteen feet high for fifty feet.  The tradition began sometime around 1993 when theatre goers were waiting in line and started sticking coins in their gum blobs stuck to the wall. Eventually, the coins disappeared but the gum didn’t. Employees at the theatre tried scraping the gum away but eventually gave into this artistic endeavour when city officials deemed the gum wall a tourist attraction around 1999.

Just a little trivia – this place was named one of the top five “germiest” tourist attractions in 2009 so I don’t think Howie Mandell ( a well known comedian/actor who has mysophobia, which is an irrational fear of germs) will be visiting any time soon.  But I would love to see this offbeat attraction. Apparently, as the wall has grown, the chewing gum urban graffiti has become more sophisticated. All colors and types of gum has been stretched, molded and arranged to form a variety of miniature self-contained artworks, names and symbols.  Chewing gum is soft and malleable when freshly chewed; tough and colorfast when dried  – perfect for art that lasts.

There’s something in me that yearns to contribute to this art exhibit. I think of that first person, who was waiting in line to see some theatre production so many years ago, whose gum got stale and he/she decided to stick in on the wall.  However gross and unhygienic it may seem, that saliva covered nugget of gum started something big.  There’s something in the action of sticking gum on the wall that has “struck a chord” in many people – just look at that wall! I mean, haven’t we all stuck a wad of chewed gum somewhere it’s not supposed to go?  I confess – I’ve done my share of sticking gum under chairs.

I think the wall looks really funky and I “chews” to see it in person.

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