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The Art of Pothole Patching

Friday, June 27, 2014

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While potholes are the nemesis of most drivers, for Jim Bachor, they are a blank canvas awaiting his artful touch.

For over a year, the Chicago resident and artist has been filling in the city's potholes—with mosaics.

"I just think it's fun to add that little bit of spark into (an) issue that people moan about," Bachor told

Jim Bachor
Photos: Facebook / Bachor

Artist Jim Bachor has been filling Chicago's potholes with mosaics. Each costs him about $50.

His creations have included the number of a nearby auto repair shop; five- or six-digit numbers that poke fun at the amount of potholes around the city; and simply the word "pothole" surrounded by a design inspired by Chicago's flag.

Archaic Inspiration

On his website, Bachor says he is fascinated by both "ancient history" and "trying to leave your mark in this world."

Inspired by volunteer work he did on an archaeological dig in Pompeii, Bachor starting creating mosaics.

"Using the same materials, tools and methods of the archaic craftsmen, I create mosaics that speak of modern things in an ancient voice," he said.

It costs Bachor about $50 to make each mosaic, which he surrounds with orange traffic cones as they dry.

Chicago DOT takes a dim view of Bachor's efforts, calling pothole repair "a task best left to the professionals and CDOT."

"When I'm doing this kind of stuff, it's amazing the percentage of people who pay no attention," he told Fast Company.

"And then there are people who stop by and say, 'Thanks for beautifying our neighborhood.' One guy stopped to thank me and gave me a coffee and a Danish."

DOT: Thanks, But No Thanks

Bachor told the Chicago Tribune that he started filling potholes with his art over a year ago after he became annoyed by a hole in front of his house.

The newspaper then tracked down a spokesperson for the Chicago Department of Transportation for an official reaction to the rogue road work.

The response: "The Department of Transportation continues to work diligently to fill the numerous potholes that have appeared on our streets as a result of the historic winter.

"Mr. Bachor and his art are proof that even the coldest, harshest winter cannot darken the spirits of Chicagoans. But filling potholes is a task best left to the professionals and CDOT."


Tagged categories: Artists; Asphalt; DOT; Rehabilitation/Repair; Repair materials; Roads/Highways

Comment from Gary Burke, (6/27/2014, 9:23 AM)

Looks like he is doing a better job than CDOT! Care to come over to Toledo...We also have a million of them and the way they are filled / fixed...they all open back up the next winter! it would be nice to see at lease some of the major thoroughfares replaced more often than once every 40 years weather they need it or not!!!

Comment from Gary Burke, (6/27/2014, 9:23 AM)


Comment from Gene Kube, (6/27/2014, 10:08 AM)

I doubt very seriously that the professionals and CDOT could patch any pothole for under $500.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (6/30/2014, 8:10 AM)

As of the 2009 Austin American Statesman report, filling a pothole cost $23 using State workers, and cost $129 if the work is outsourced to a contractor.

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