CHICAGO — The perfect pothole might not exist for many people — but for mosaic artist Jim Bachor, it’s one with a nice oval shape. Bachor began filling those potholes a little more than a year ago, after one in front of his house became a hassle.
Bachor doesn’t just fill them with cement, though. He’s turned pothole-filling into a public art project — one with a sense of humor. He fills them with mosaics.
“I just think it’s fun to add that little bit of spark into (an) issue that people moan about,” says the Chicago resident, whose work also hangs in galleries. He was first drawn to the ancient art form because of its ability to last.
With orange cones and vests displaying his last name, Bachor and his helpers look official enough to shut down a street section to work on filling a pothole.
Bachor uses the Chicago city flag design in his pothole art. Some versions hold phone numbers to local auto repair shops, while others simply read “POTHOLE.” His most recent installment north of downtown Chicago — “#21914” — pokes fun at the huge number of potholes that exist in the city.
While his mosaic art isn’t a permanent solution to the city’s pothole problem, it’s at least a small fix, he says. The city hasn’t shut down his project, and some community members have expressed gratitude.
After his first project, one neighbor stopped to thank him. “And then 15 minutes later, he came back with a coffee and a Danish for me,” Bachor says, “and so I thought that was really cool.”
Gerry Shaheen, a resident of Peoria, Illinois, recently stopped to ask Bachor about his work, as the artist installed a mosaic. He says Bachor and his crew are welcome anytime to fill potholes in his city, one of many hit with an especially large number of the annoying craters after a hard winter.
“I’ll pave the way for them,” Shaheen said with smirk. “No pun intended.”