Sticky, Germy and Wacky- The Seattle Gum Wall

Seattle-Gum-Wall featured

Love locked in the lofty reaches of romance, great indeed in the assertion of their being snaking and gliding their way through empires and nations over the limitless entity of time and across the vast expanse of space, and spiritual as well even across their seemingly lifeless premise of standing over the ages, the many a walls of the world tend not to be mere structures in the strategic divisions and fortifications of a planet forever obsessed and immersively involved in the tussles of power alluding to claims over territories in geography ironically not of their own creating. The very mention of walls might not conjure a vision in anything dramatic except for of course their exploration along the lines of what constitutes the essentially stylish interests of decor but even in this certain typical existence of their lifeless nature, walls embody within themselves elements of quirk and curiosity and facets of attraction that do not really seem to align with their essence in linear, non exciting, rather sombre reputation of them. And one such running of a wall that is fascinating indeed in the diversive, even when albeit a bit contended sprawl of it beyond the facades of expectation in stark nothingness almost happens to be a popular indeed stemming from the city of Seattle, famously green not in any envy but in very literal living in this color of natural vibrancy.

gum wall of seattle
Source: Twenty20

A global tourist attraction as prominent as it is a local landmark of commonplace reference and one that has seen its otherwise as commonplace mundanity drowned by a weird assertion of what one might be inclined to laud as art is the Seattle Gum Wall, more formally but less famously identifying as the Market Theater Gum Wall of definite artistic leanings indeed. And it is from this very intimacy to the creative unfurling well understood as being a greater entailing of the arts that the Gum Wall came to express itself in this alternate basis of its being sometime in the 1990s. As the very moniker of it gives away instantly, evidently and in no conspicuous manner the exact premise upon which the wall stands today irrespective of the foundation of the ordinary from which it charted out its then unremarkable journey in staticness, the Gum Wall sure is ‘the’ wall ‘decorated’ with something as unusual and undeniably gross as well element of chewing (read chewed) gum. No less unusual as well is the spurring of this phenomenon in novelty(?), with a particular 1991 occurrence of very interesting indeed intention leading to this gumming spree in stickiness. In its very location in Post Alley adjacent to the box office for Market Theater, the wall had already been residing all along in the shadow of distinction of being the adjacent entity to a venue buzzing with regular comedy show stagings and the like. But it was only after hosting the show put up by a certain Unexpected Productions’ Theatresports that the wall saw its real but identical walled identity fade into the alleys of obscurity. Patrons of the performance organisers began sticking gums into the wall to further support the more probable assertion of sticking coins upon them as they would wait for the events to begin, to pass away their time as well as probably also to express the monetary equivalent of their support. And thus it ensued, this exercise of taking to festooning the wall in such popular routine of regular recurrence that made it stand out in a colorful conglomeration of those chews of sticking by indeed in both literal and metaphorical assertions of it.

Needless to say however that despite the frenzy of this soon accelerated mass phenomenon that made nascent efforts by theater workers to keep the wall as uninspiringly clean as ever coming across as futile, the germy attribute of this curious means in beginning of a tradition set off indeed the conscience of many. Rather unsurprisingly then, the Seattle Wall has managed to acquire upon itself also the ‘distinction’ of being among the germiest tourists attractions of the world in a 2009 naming (and shaming) list. And while that might not have been the exact reason why authorities decided in 2015 upon extensively cleaning the wall off its popularity for the first time ever since its (un)ceremonious beginnings, the fact of the matter remains that the Gum Wall is not always an aesthetic experience to regard at least in the ‘vibe’ of it. The sight is all pretty indeed if one does not allow for the fact that those bits of multihued vibrancy that has endowed upon the wall a stature untypical of its kind identify basically as garbage but indulge in the other of the five senses and the pleasantness gets even more non existent in its deciphering. Come summer specifically and the Seattle Gum Wall takes on that repulsive smell of ages long human saliva smeared upon it making for unbearable an experience in the stinks of its emanating.

Notwithstanding still such unfavourable response evoked out of its steeping in stickiness, the Seattle Wall isn’t by any means an entity unstriking in the ‘greatness’ of it. As a structure located next to the highly imaginative realm of what sums up the exploits of the theatrical, this eponymous naming in brick and mortar might be liable to pass as a small strip of past nothingness that has grown in the stature of its non physical being. And yet the gummed assertion that the wall has taken tends to be sufficiently expansive in its expression of the ‘token’ with a more than 50 feet long expanse of it laying claim in being the definite grounds of stickiness. Equally significant in this alluding to the dimensional is also the thickness that has come to define the Seattle Wall, with a 15 feet high coating made up by this amusing exploit in the gummy ‘grandeur’. Amusing also is the ‘heights’ to which this passion in making the Gum Wall remain forever fortifying of its tradition in gumminess is explored with counts amounting to as considerable manifestations of some not so comfortable stretches of 20 feet displaying prominently specimens of this quirky taking to art. Not even just the precincts presenting itself as the wall but gum sculptures have also been arranged some distance from the wall in front so that it manifests as a structure furthered and thereby furthering of the massive magnificence of what the arts conjure.

A gum stuck wall might not make for much of a prospect in exploring the vast summing ups of what delivers the appeal of the artistic but the Seattle Gum Wall isn’t just a typical account of pieces of chewing gum all stuck upon in identical fashion across its significant measurement in standing. Pressing those wads of intact color and lingering hints of flavour drained though of the more primal life of its essence but emerging still through a newer lease of identity upon the wall in that manner of the commonplace smacks is indeed a popular, almost instinctive way to let one’s creative juices make up for the lost extract of the chewing gums. But also frequenting that expanse as the canvas of their artistic renditions are folks who take instead to impressing their blow of the gum upon the wall even as other common recourses of making a part of the wacky wall one’s own include everything from the cliched expression of love to the unimpressive tactic of sticking business cards over the gum pieces, and so on and so forth as the highly imaginative faculties of the human might fancy. And like every other fad so universally taken to by easily entertained humans the world over, the romantic resonance of this not exactly love st(r)uck wall unlike indeed the immensely love infatuated French attraction of the Pont des Arts tracks its beat to again a 2009 episode of fame. When Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart took to this by then well established tradition in sticking gums owing to the scripted demands of their film Love Happens, they accelerated even further this ‘reverence’ of the ritual in popular perception as visitor footfall increased dramatically in the times since then. And so has this adherence to the obligatory almost sticking of gums upon the Seattle Gum Wall in romance or otherwise seen a manifold increase, followed of course by the as necessary ritual of clicking pictures with that unique indeed background making for definite holiday worthy memories. Only asserting further in even greater prominence during the corresponding years of the ‘gram and continuing still till date in such distinction that makes it a favorite spot for wedding photographers in particular, the Seattle Gum Wall makes itself matter in its manifold mavericks even when it isn’t the only nor the first of its unique kind. That distinction might be accruing instead to California’s Bubblegum Alley both in the extension of its history and in the dimensions of its decoration but it is the Emerald City of Seattle that manages to make the former go green with envy when it comes to charting the heights of popularity- and clinging on to it for dear life as well.