September 04, 2011

Photo Essay: Bubble Gum Alley

One of the more unusual forms of folk art is bubble gum art.

One might even argue that it's not folk art at all, but just plain vandalism.

But when you walk down Bubble Gum Alley in San Luis Obispo, CA, you get the same sense that you do walking through Nitt Witt Ridge or Watts Towers: that it will never be finished, no matter how much material is added on.

The only difference is that in the case of bubble gum art, usually there is no single artist. Rather, the end result - or, the work-in-progress - is formed from the contributions of dozens, hundreds, thousands of artists, or, that is, bubble gum chewers.

New globs sit on top of dirty old globs, flattened out over time.

Blown bubbles frozen in time are affixed onto an underlayer of other already-been-chewed gum.

And sometimes the gum is used to affix other things to the wall, like business cards, wrappers...


...and other ephemera...

...including the occasional love note.

In Bubble Gum Alley, every visitor is a potential artist, if they have the right building material. It is collage art at its grossest and most personal, fruity-scented, untouchable.

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