Jim Bachor doesn’t often use his pothole mosaics to make a political point.
But the Chicago artist made an exception when it came to President Donald Trump, who he describes as a “carnival barker” and “terrible human” who has dragged down the country’s discourse.
“Trump drives me crazy,” Bachor, 54, who is better known for filling in potholes with cement and topping them off with his playful images, told HuffPost this week. “I wanted to have an answer if one of my twin boys asked me in the future what I did during this dark time for our country.”
Bachor has twice used his pothole art to take aim at Trump. He dropped this “LIAR” mosaic, complete with a gold-surrounded Russian flag, near Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago in 2017:
It remains there to this day.
Bachor acknowledged it divided opinion among his fans, accustomed to his earlier “lighthearted, fun” mosaics. But he remains unrepentant.
“Protesting crowds are fine, but I like the staying power of my statement piece so very close to his building here,” he said. “Love it.”
In 2018, he installed this portrait of Trump as part of his “Vermin of New York” series, which also featured a dead rat and cockroach. The work later incurred the wrath of the city’s Department of Transportation and was removed.
“I feel pretty helpless/powerless about what I can do about what the hell is going on in Washington D.C.,” Bachor admitted. “However, I can install these pretty durable ‘billboards.’”
Bachor, a graphic design graduate, said he began “messing around with mosaics” following his first trip to Europe in the early 2000s, when a tour guide at the Pompeii archaeological site in Italy pointed out that “glass and marble don’t fade and are set in mortar so the artwork looks exactly the way the artist intended so long ago.”
“This idea has driven my artwork ever since,” Bachor explained. “The fact I could produce art that has the potential to last much longer than I will be around fascinates me.”
The first pothole he filled was a particularly “stubborn” one that he said Chicago workers had been struggling to fix outside his home on the city’s northwest side in 2013. Bachor has since installed 78 more ― mostly in his home city, but also in New York, Los Angeles, San Antonio, Philadelphia, Detroit and Nashville.
Internationally, he’s left one in Carrara, central Italy, and six in Jyväskylä, Finland, where he said city officials “actually dug custom potholes for me” to “allow them to control where they ended up.”
Bachor is pretty particular about what kind of pothole he’ll fill. They must measure around 18 by 24 inches, and be in a safe position that can be seen by pedestrians. He shuns “beat-up” streets likely to be repaved soon.
The whole process takes around two days, from start to finish. He spends up to 10 hours creating the art in his studio and an additional two hours installing it on the street. He returns the following day, once the concrete surrounding the mosaic has set, to clean up, snap a photo and leave a goodie bag for fans ― who he teases with the rough location of the pothole on Instagram.
Bachor’s art is, like most street art, transient. It often ends up solely being recorded in photographic form. So, it’s probably good he plans to continue blessing cratered streets with his images (political or not) for the foreseeable future.