Chicago artist Jim Bachor fills potholes with mosaics


Jim Bachor travels the country filling potholes for a living. He doesn’t fill in bad road sections with cement, he literally turns them into art – and often, commentary.

Bachor uses it hundreds of pieces of Italian glass and marble he cut to create sometimes subversive mosaics, which he placed on the ground to beautify unsightly city streets. He doesn’t work with cities in settings, he works rogue, and he sets the mosaics himself.

Bachor started his pothole art in Chicago, where he lives, by putting the word “pothole” in black and white marble on a street divot in 2013.

“People liked it and thought it was funny,” he said. “Is it legal? I don’t know. I decided to turn my hobby into something Robin Hood. If I had to ask for permission, I wouldn’t do this.

In DC he made pothole mosaics of wolves for a conservation group.

Before he left town in September, he went to Georgetown and installed a picture of a spine — to “remind people of what it’s like,” Bachor, 58, said in a statement. Box details on Washington politics.

Bachor’s work in Chicago fills potholes with mosaics of a TV remote control, cats, a blue Twitter sign and the words “I couldn’t do this if I was black” – and other pictures that make people stop and look, including the word “LIAR.”

He worked in many cities, including New York, where he created mosaics of dead rats, pigeons and lizards. He was called “Pothole Picasso” by the New York Post.

In DC, Bachor was hired by the #RelistWolves Campaign, a private funding group working to restore Northern Rocky Mountain wolves as an endangered species in an effort to get them the same protection as Another wolf.

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Samantha Attwood, one of the group’s founders, said they decided to hire Bachor to fill some potholes with mosaics of wolves to help attract their work.

“His work is beautiful and creative, and we hope his work will help raise awareness,” he said.

He recorded his songs of Nana. Now, at the age of 95, he has been nominated for a Latin Grammy.

Bachor placed his wolf sculptures in holes in three District locations: 600 H Street NE, 1800 H Street NW and 40 N Street NE. He did the parts in front of his basement Chicago, then chose the locations himself after asking some of his Instagram followers in DC to narrow down the possibilities.

Attwood said he was happy to see the ad move past Solid State Books at 600 H Street.

“The store put out a display with books and information about registering wolves, and they made sure that Jim’s hole wasn’t covered by the cars there,” he said. . “It’s been a great partnership that continues.”

When Bachor was looking for a suitable place for the wolves, he had a lot of holes to choose from, because the complaints about them have come up in the past years.

However, he said, he will search hard before deciding on a place to work for his art, which is usually measures 18 inches by 24 inches.

“It’s very difficult to find the right heart,” Bachor said. “It should be on the edge of the beaten path, and people should be able to see it from five or six feet away.”

He took a wrong turn and saw a house on fire. He saved 4 siblings.

He said about 90 percent of the pits don’t work for his jobs.

“It’s not going to be a pit in the middle of the road because I don’t want to lock up the car and I don’t want to hit it,” he said. “And if I show up and put a car on top of the pit, it’s game over. I can wait for days. “

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Bachor said he was first introduced to mosaic art in the late 1990s during a trip to the archaeological ruins of Pompeii, Italy.

“One guide pointed out a mosaic on the site and said that the image looks exactly like what the artist intended 2,000 years ago because the marble and the glass,” he said. “It makes me happy to think that an image can live on for centuries after I’m gone.”

Bachor returned to his advertising career in Chicago and began making mosaics. When he was fired from his job and decided to make a living as an artist, his inspiration came from nowhere.

“In 2013, the sinkholes in my neighborhood were really bad,” Bachor said. “I remember thinking that potholes were an insurmountable problem that were temporarily blocked, then had to be redone. Everyone hated them.

While watching a sinkhole open in front of his house one evening, he decided to take matters into his own hands.

“I thought, ‘Why not take this long-standing art form that I’ve loved so much and solve this problem?’ “he said.

Bachor filled the hole with cement and stuck a piece of art on top, creating his first in-ground sculpture with the word “pothole.”

After that first project, Bachor said he decided to turn other potholes in his neighborhood into asphalt generators.

The deep potholes that caused motorists and cyclists to cry out in agony became something to admire.

Bachor enjoyed turning the streets into a driving gallery and quickly installed mosaic hot dogs, Cupids and vases.

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For one of the plans, he said he chose a number like 316,841 to draw attention to the number of potholes in the city. For others, he entered the phone numbers of auto repair shops he liked, which he thought were public services.

“It didn’t take long before I decided that all the pictures were the same size so I could finish the holes faster,” Bachor said, adding that he spent about $100 on the job. each and every one is not a pothole picture. It’s an economic way.

Soon he was selling his business, and people were hiring him to fill holes.

Now, he spends about 10 hours on each piece and says he’s created 108 pieces of art, including street art in Nashville, Philadelphia, New York. City and Los Angeles.

Some of his works are based on famous compositions (“The Bedroom” by Van Gogh and “American Gothic” by Grant Wood), while others depict pop culture or other things. in the news.

During the pandemic, Bachor filled three potholes with mosaics of hand sanitizer, a roll of toilet paper and a beer can, then called his creation “The Holy Trinity.” He posts photos of each project on Instagram and leaves a goody bag filled with pothole stickers, patches and small prints for his followers to see up close the new street art.

He said that his fragmentary mosaic of the District of a Spine was something he did with passion. It sits on a street near Dumbarton Street NW and 30th Street NW. He hadn’t heard anything about it, leading him to believe that he might have lost his mind.

“Unfortunately, no one knows exactly what I did, but that’s okay,” he said. “It’s an art.”


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