I have been to Pike Place Market approximately 12 million times. When you are a kid that lives in Seattle, it is a place that your parents think is an appropriate place to bring you for a Saturday morning excursion that they will also find entertaining. When you come back later as an adult tourist, you go because it is one of the few places that you remember liking that you also know the name of. That’s the funny thing about being a kid in a city (or maybe just a kid in general)- you hardly ever seemed to know the names of the places you liked best, and you can always ask your parents but they don’t always remember “the fountain that looked like it was made of blocks” or “the big sevens.” Sometimes they can decipher what you mean, but sometimes they just look at you like you were born on another planet. It’s been too long, and the difference between what a kid and adult found interesting or important about a place can be too vast to decipher when memories have had decades to stiffen.
So you go back to Pike Place Market on a whim road trip extension to Seattle. And a bit of street art that was never on your radar before catches your eye, and you spend a solid thirty minutes gazing at one (maybe 20 ft long?) wall.
You spend the time looking at the layers, because that’s one of the best parts. There are traces of art on top of art- paint from other pieces, torn bits of poster, cracks in the wall, rust.
This shit builds on top of its self.
You look deeply, the way most people do in galleries full of masterpieces.
The longer you look, the more you see. Layers. Details.
And then you turn another corner and you find another tourist spot- you knew it existed, but you didn’t know where. And there it is. Gum Alley.
I’m not sure why people get so excited about walls full of gross, germy gum, but they do.
They’re not sure why I get so excited about “vandalism” or “illegal art.” They’re not sure why I want to spend hours gazing at it like its a wall in The Louvre, but I do.
Important? Interesting? Those are still concepts that are up for debate.