Jim Bachor remembers the night he nearly got caught. He was hunched over the asphalt in his orange vest, when a police car idled up. Jim swore softly. The slam of a car door. Footsteps. Then the cop’s voice: “Are you the pothole guy?”
Affirmative. For the past five years, Jim has been on a capeless, one-man crusade in Chicago. He’s transforming something universally hated into delightful surprises—glass-and-marble mosaics of junk food, flowers and playful objects.
Jim Bachor with one of his pothole mosaics.
Like that officer who eventually drove off, I had heard rumors of the pothole guy. But I didn’t know the person responsible was an Italian-trained artist who initially did his road artwork at night. “I have twins,” Jim says. “I couldn’t afford to get arrested.”
You have to be a sleuth to find the mosaics. One day, after a 30-minute search (and one misleading glint of a crushed soda bottle), I considered giving up. Then a restaurant employee told me to cross the street. Sure enough, as I neared a variation in the blacktop, it morphed into a giant Nutter Butter cookie.
Jim calls it an Easter egg hunt. Thankfully, it’s not one the city is pursuing. So far, several cops have let his unsanctioned street art slide. Recently he began expanding to other cities. And this year, he’s planning his first multicity “road work” tour, including New York—no gallery invite needed.