Gross? Or Beautiful! – Clean and Rebuilt Public Art

It was unexpected.

Locks in Germany

When I ran into the “flocks of the locks” in Germany this past summer, I thought of these-
Seattle Gum Wall before cleaned

The Gum Wall in Seattle – One of my friends took me there when I first moved to Seattle and I was so impressed! I know it’s gross! But, I actually really liked them. Each time friends from out of state or overseas came to visit me in Seattle, I took them there. This place even became a wedding photo shoot location for many couples.

The wall is located a kind of “behind” the Pike Place Market, which is a popular tourist site. It is on the sides of the building that is home to the Market Theater, where improv performances take place.  I feel that makes it even more interesting. People began sticking chewing gum here around 1993 and the wall has been a tourist attraction since around 1999, according to the info.

Market Theater in Seattle

Then, in November this year, the Gum Wall in Seattle was cleaned for the first time in 20 years! I don’t know if 20 years is long or short for this…It depends on how you feel.  It certainly has history.

When I heard the news last month, it reminded me of  the collection of locks in Germany that I saw a few months back.

I also wonder if removing the gum in Seattle this year was inspired by the earlier event in Paris, when they removed love locks from the Pont des Arts bridge.

It may be coincidence that both cleanup events have occurred within a short span of each other. The collection of each person’s love, fun, and relationship has become a public art, and it has been culling people and attracting even more people to share their inspired memories. The objects and the inspiration behind these memories continue to increase more and more.  The gum accumulating on the wall is the same.  Now, they have been removed. It may repeat as often history finds itself repeating.

Although I was in Paris in May, I was too busy to do sightseeing and didn’t have a chance to see this bridge Pont des Arts. However, when I was traveling in Cologne, I had more time to walk around and encounter the locks on the bridges in that city (The first photo). They are still there. They have not been removed at least yet.

To me, I feel they are art – they were built by so many individuals’ emotions, expressing as excitement and curiosity. I consider those accumulated locks and colorful gum as being truly public art that consist of each person’s life and contributions.

They are now cleaned away; It’s simple, yet, complex.

There are myriad of stories and dramas that have been untold, which cannot be erased through the scrubbing and removing.

Their beauty, passion, and themes, now seemingly lost in the past, are to be unlocked in their future unborn!

It is a new beginning! New gum walls and love locks! New art and life.  (In fact, officials expect and have seen that the Gum Wall will be re-created.)
It’s a new beginning of another history.

At the end of this year, I was pondering about those.  Wishing you all a Happy New Year!


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About misako

Artist/Author @misakoobaart on Instagram
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