Urban landscapes always have a few common scenes. Tall buildings, gaggles of teens, loitering on the streets, litter, grey stone pathways, and the chewing gum spat out long ago onto those pathways. That gum is usually an unhygienic relic of some litterer long ago.
But imagine that some pedestrian looks at those patches of grey and white and saw, instead of a nuisance yet to be cleaned, the opportunity to create.
Ben Wilson did just that. From the year 2004, Ben has earned himself the title of "Chewing Gum Man" by taking time to paint hundreds of these splotches. After cleaning, Ben paints beautiful scenes, abstract, subject, or anything he is commissioned. Then, a layer of lacquer. Once dry, These artworks bring a splash of joy to the pathways through London.
These acts of benevolence, however, have brought ill-focus to him on two occasions. Twice, Ben has been arrested on charges of criminal damages. However, unlike the gum, these charges never stuck. As it turns out, the spitting of the gum is the criminal damage, not the painting of it afterwards.
More than 10,000 of these pieces have been created and Ben has no intention of stopping. The creation of each piece can range from 2 hours to multiple days.
But to see an opportunity and take it, to try to improve people's lives with no clear reward, even in the face of adversity. Surely this is worthy of praise? Isn't it the point of art, to try and reshape the world around us to align with our vision of it?
Either way, just don't spit on the floor. It's gross and unhygenic.