You might remember back in 2020, a number of Chicago’s neglected potholes began taking on a new look. While most of us wait for the city to do something about the unsightly craters, one artistic vigilante by the name of Jim Bachor took it upon himself and began roaming Chicago’s streets filling potholes with prismatic mosaics for the good of all.
To Bachor, a pothole isn’t just a nuisance — it’s also a canvas. Inspired by a voluntary archaeological dig in Pompeii, Bachor long ago turned to filling black holes in the asphalt turning them into works of art across Illinois, Arizona, Tennessee, Michigan, New York, and Washington, D.C. Most recently Jim Bachor has been blessing Chicago with a new series of mosaics he’s coining “Master pieces”.
The artist’s latest groundwork includes recreations of famous pieces of art such as Van Gogh’s “The Bedroom”, Grant Wood’s “American Gothic”, Andy Warhol’s “Portraits of Chairman Mao”, and most recently Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks”.
Like a true art vigilante, Bachor makes his work at his own expense. The process of making a mural, in the middle of the street, after filling potholes — which isn’t exactly legal — is a slow tedious process done on hands and knees surrounded by car fumes.
But for Bachor, it is all worthwhile and, according to the artist himself, it’s his way of leaving his mark on the world. “Colorful pieces of stone or glass set in mortar were the photographs of empires long past. Marble and glass do not fade. Mortar is mortar. An ancient mosaic looks exactly as intended by the artist who produced it over two millennia ago. What else can claim that kind of staying power? I find this idea simply amazing” reads a statement on his website bachor.com.
“By harnessing and exploiting the limitations of this indestructible technique, my work surprises the viewer while challenging long-held notions of what a mosaic should be. Like low-tech pixels, hundreds if not thousands of tiny, hand-cut pieces of Italian glass and marble comprise my work. This work is my mark.”
Bachor’s work has by no means gone unnoticed and with a loyal fanbase, he now has an online store selling t-shirts, puzzles, phone cases, shoes, and other merchandise featuring his artwork.
While the original pieces of art are, of course, stuck in the ground, he releases limited edition prints of every new creation.
Bachor carefully chose pieces that the general public would recognize and even reached out to the Art Institute of Chicago with the hope of getting funding but has not heard back and has since started the hashtag #artinstituteofchicagowontreturnmyemails.
Unfortunately, the last of Bachor’s social media posts which revealed his latest piece based on Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks”, the artist wrote “4th and maybe final piece of the new series” hinting that we might not be treated to any more of his unique creations any time soon.
There are, however, a great number of potholes he has filled in with various other mosaics around the city and you can find a map of all his works around Chicago at bachor.com.
Of the latest series, his Van Gogh mosaic can be found in the 4100 block of North Kostner Avenue in Old Irving Park, the American Gothic recreation is located at Green and Randolph streets in West Loop, the Chairman Mao portrait resides in the 2000 block of West Crystal Street in Wicker Park, and the latest installation inspired by Nighthawks is at Estes and Glenwood avenues in Rogers Park.
If by any chance any more do follow keep your eyes peeled for gift bags near newly created pothole master pieces. With every new creation, Bachor hides a gift bag filled with goodies including prints, magnets, keychains, and coupons for his online shop.
[Featured image from Instagram / @jimbachor]