Is It Art? – Pike Place Market Gum Wall

The Pike Place Market Gum Wall in Seattle, Washington, like the Beer Can House in Houston, Texas is another one of those creations that beg the question, “Is it art”. The Oxford American Dictionary defines art as, “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”

At its most basic the gum wall is nothing more than a brick alleyway in downtown Seattle covered with gum. In 1993 patrons of the “Unexpected Productions’ Seattle Theatresports” began to stick gum to the wall and placed coins in the blobs of gum. Twice workers tried to scrape away the gum but a tradition had begun and eventually they gave up. In 1999 Pike Place Market officials declared the gum wall an official tourist attraction. The ever growing wall is now several inches thick, 15 feet high and over 50 feet wide.

But, the question remains, “Is it art?” The wall certainly has emotional power but, that emotion is often “ewww” or “gross”. Does it show creativity or imagination? Maybe a little. Skill? Nope. I did however find it interesting and if it is not art in and of itself, it is a testament to people’s need to express themselves and cooperatively create things. In my mind that – if not this work – is important and I will reluctantly concede that, like the Beer Can House, it is art. What do you think?

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Author: Jonathan Look

In 2011 Jonathan Look decided to change his life and pursue adventures instead of comfort and possessions. His goal is to travel the world solo; one country at a time, one year at a time. To accomplish this he got rid of most of his possessions, packed up what little he saw as necessities and headed out. His goal is to spend ten years discovering new places, meeting new people and taking the time to learn about them, their values and their place on this tiny planet. He embraces the philosophy that says a person is the sum of their experiences and rejects the fraud of modern consumerism that makes people into slaves of their consumption. He doesn't intend to be modern day ascetic, just more mindful of his place in the world and to make decisions according to that new standard.

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