Ask the Art Nurse: How to get chewing gum off your art (and your shoes).


I’m a New York City-based arts blogger who recently invested in a pair of righteous grey-felt sneakers — a purchase that may have been subliminally inspired by a recent visit to the Joseph Beuys installation at the Dia Beacon.

Well, on my first day wearing my smokin’ new kicks, I stepped on a giant wad of chewing gum. Not realizing that I was sporting this sticky parasite, I then paid a visit to a prominent Manhattan arts institution, where I stood on a brand-spanking-new rug that was intended as a fuzzy stage for all manner of cutting-edge relational aesthetics (i.e.: thing to sit on and talk). It was at this moment that I discovered that my foot was attached to the rug by a string of chewy chicle. In good starving-writer fashion, I quickly made for the exit.

My question is this: How do I remove the gum from the tight tread of my insanely rad footwear? And what suggestions would you have for the venerable downtown arts institution that may find itself with a mess of Double Mint smashed into their social sculpture?

Love your work,
Hapless in Brooklyn


First of all, you can’t write to me mentioning something as sublime as felt sneaks without a picture. So pony up and tell me also where you got them. [Hapless in Brooklyn has acquiesced with the image at right, though she refuses to reveal her retail sources.]

Secondly, in this case, ice is your best friend. Rub a cube on the gum until it gets hard, then take a knife and chip away as much as possible without hurting the rubber sole, of course. The residue can be cleaned off with ethanol (denatured alcohol) or acetone (nail polish remover) on a Q-tip. Test a discreet area first to make sure the solvent does not dissolve the shoe bottom.

The same is prescribed for the venerable arts venue. However, they will have to work around the fuzz (e.g. possible hedge-trimming) and might face issues of discoloration if using a solvent. It’s the type of tricky work, naturally, that is best left in the hands of a pro.

San Suzie

Have a question for the Art Nurse? E-mail her at suzie [at] c-monster [dot] net.


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  3. chris

    haha! Sorry for the shoes and sorry for the rug. I guess this says something about what we can expect when “open to the public” and “streets of NYC” meet.