Lonely Planet Writer

You won’t believe how this Chicago man is filling potholes in his neighborhood

Potholes aren’t known for inspiring anything more colorful than the language of the drivers who find themselves jarred by one. But one Chicago man has found an artistic outlet thanks to these roadway nuisances — and it’s getting some national attention and a worldwide following on Instagram.

A post shared by bachor (@jimbachor) on Oct 19, 2015 at 8:58am PDT

Graphic artist Jim Bachor, a father of two, has been quietly filling in potholes in his Chicago neighborhood since 2013, but it’s the way he does it that stands out. Inspired by a trip to Pompeii, where he was impressed by the way mosaics had endured over time, Bachor painstakingly composes whimsical pop-art mosaics from marble and glass — Nestle Crunch bars, Blow Pops, the Chicago flag —  to inlay over the concrete fill.

A post shared by bachor (@jimbachor) on Sep 25, 2016 at 8:01am PDT

Each mosaic takes about eight hours to assemble in Bachor’s basement. It’s pieced together on cheesecloth, then applied to the wet concrete. Once the concrete is dry, the cheesecloth must be peeled off carefully. All this is done by Bachor himself, in an orange safety vest, surrounded by construction cones. The cost of materials to fill each hole? About $100.

A post shared by bachor (@jimbachor) on Sep 2, 2016 at 6:48am PDT

But Bachor thinks turning an eyesore into something that makes people smile is worth the time and money. “It’s just that little bit of unexpected joy which is kind of a fun thing for me,” he said.

A post shared by bachor (@jimbachor) on Jul 23, 2016 at 7:17am PDT

Though his work isn’t strictly legal, it has plenty of local support: last spring, his efforts were fully funded by a Kickstarter, and he’s been commissioned for larger-scale artistic projects by Niketown Chicago and Pork and Mindy’s, a restaurant in Chicago’s Wicker Park.

A post shared by bachor (@jimbachor) on Oct 2, 2015 at 4:39pm PDT

As his fame grows, Bachor has taken his work beyond Chicago. He placed a can of Faygo, a brand of local soda, over a pothole in his home city of Detroit, and he’s completed installations in San Antonio and Philadelphia as well. He’s even taken his craft worldwide; residents of Jyväskylä, Finland, invited him to place a few works of art in the city as part of their 2016 “end of winter” festival.
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