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Fixing Chicago's potholes, one mosaic at a time

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Jim Bachor is on a mission. For over a year, the artist has been using Chicago's fractured streets as a canvas, replacing potholes with unique mosaics. Bachor's city is crippled by potholes; between January and March Chicago filled over 350,000, but estimated 60,000 still needed attention. "The problem with fixing potholes is that it's always temporary," Bachor tells The Verge, "they get filled sometimes more than once a winter. There was a stubborn pothole in front of our house and I decided to merge my artwork with this problem in the city by creating a special piece of art and installing it."

Bachor's mosaics take between two and three hours to complete, and choosing the perfect hole to fill takes far longer. He needs to find a solitary pothole away from the center of the street — traffic won't stop for an artist at work — and installs his mosaics when roads are at their quietest. Each features the flag of Chicago alongside the word "pothole" or a long serial number, poking fun at the scale of the problem in the city.

Chicago's Department of Transportation (CDOT) has fought hard to deal with potholes, increasing its efforts to repair that city's streets and implementing a simple online service for reporting problems. When asked for comment on Bachor's vigilante campaign, the department told the Chicago Tribune the artist's art is "proof that even the coldest, harshest winter can not darken the spirits of Chicagoans," but added that "filling potholes is a task best left to the professionals and CDOT."

Bachor doesn't expect others to pick up the mantle and create their own mosaics. "My initial idea was not to start a movement," he says, "but if it happens so be it. It's really been about me leaving my semi-permanent mark on the city I love."

All images copyright and published with the express permission of Jim Bachor.

Mosaics by Jim Bucher