Artist who decorates potholes speaks at JPNA meeting
by BRIAN NADIG
A Mayfair resident who fell in love with ancient mosaic art during a trip to Europe has covered about 30 potholes city with artwork made out of marble and Italian glass since 2013.
“That trip really changed the course of my life,” artist Jim Bachor said at the Sept. 28 meeting of the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association. “That trip lit a fire under me for ancient history.”
Bachor said that he is often impressed by the durability of ancient mosaic artwork and that his love for the art combined with his frustration about a pothole in front of his home on Kenton Avenue led to his first pothole installation.
At first Bachor did not publicize what he did to the pothole in front of his home, as he did not have permission from the city. “I didn’t want to get in trouble,” he said.
However, a friend later mentioned the pothole on social media, and since that time, Bachor has received world-wide media coverage of his artwork. The government of Finland commissioned him to install mosaics in the streets there.
Bachor pours concrete into the pothole and then sets the mosaic into the concrete, although not all of mosaics have stayed in place. “The first six were kind of trial and error until I figured it out,” he said.
Bachor said that the police and other city agencies have never stopped him during one of his installations in Chicago. He said that he puts out orange construction cones and wears an orange vest to help make what he is doing look official.
Some of the installations have disappeared when the city repaved the street, Bachor said.
The installations have featured a variety of themes, including one series called “treats in the streets” that includes images of ice cream bars and popsicles. Others include images of the Chicago flag with the word ‘pothole” and “images of pictures of flowers as part of the “fanciest” series.
Some of Bachor’s Northwest side locations include “Louis Vuitton” in the 4800 block of West Gunnison Street and “Bachor” in the 4300 block of West Cullom Avenue.
Also at the meeting, members discussed the possibility of a organizing a public protest against several recent zoning proposals. The association, which has a policy against up-zoning, has been at odds with Alderman John Arena (45th) over his support of a planned 13-story building at Lipps Avenue and Ainslie Street and a four-story apartment building at Argyle Street and Long Avenue.
Two residents at the meeting asked for the association’s assistance in stopping a zoning proposal which calls for the construction of two homes on a vacant lot at 6223-27 W. Gregory St.
Disagreement last year over how to best redevelop Jefferson Park led a group of primarily newer association members to form another neighborhood organization, Jefferson Park Forward. The new group supports the construction of transit-oriented developments near the Jefferson Park Metra and CTA stations.
The meeting marked the 15th anniversary of the association. Members re-elected Colleen Murphy, Carlene Blumenthal and Ron Ernst to the association’s board of directors and William Wardman as vice president.
The association’s next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26, in the basement of the Congregational Church of Jefferson Park, 5320 W. Giddings St.