September 17, 2015

You See a Pothole, He Sees Potential: Mosaic Artist Jim Bachor, Chicago CreativeMornings

Source: Hannah Fehrman

Jim Bachor will change the way you think about potholes. At the 44th monthly gathering of CreativeMornings in Chicago, he focused his talk on these residual by-products of urban infrastructure. He doesn’t merely fill them, but rather populates them with personality. Instead of patching them up, he treats each pothole as a creative opportunity. His motivation: claiming his beloved city’s eyesores and turning them into playful visions of flowers, popsicles and ice cream. By turning something defective into something delightful, his mosaic artistry is an impressive demonstration of good intentions. In sum, a physical performance, done on a quiet road in the neighborhood, in the open, and satisfying his desire to make a beautiful composition (weather permitting). Where there once was a defect, after Bachor’s manipulation, a pleasant surprise awaits.

Bachor, with his focus on mosaics on and off the street, is among many who believe in aesthetic intervention—scouting for areas, overlooked typically, and seeing the art of possibility. Some are primarily surface treatments. Some are primarily practical treatments. Some serve both form and function. The application can be inspiring, like these:

In Miami, the blank outer walls of José de Diego Middle School were turned into murals—38 of them by 40+ painters. The school turned into an art installation, a sight of art therapy. As seventh-grader Lisandra Perez summarized about the mural’s total effect: “They made our lives better. It makes us want to come to school.”

In Cincinnati, Chris Glass seized his typographic design skills and helped his neighborhood barber by providing a new sign.

In Chicago, as part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s cultural plan, dead trees are turned by craftspeople into public art.

A pleasant surprise

Even in the most overlooked spots, a little bit of art can bring unexpected joy to an unsuspecting person.

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Big thanks: to BraintreeLeo Burnett Department of Design (Host), Onward Search, Hannah's BretzelGreen Sheep Water, for being Partners of monthly Chicago CreativeMornings #44; to organizers Kim Knoll and Kyle Eertmoed who both spoke at Chicago CreativeMornings #7; to the team of volunteers for greatly helping to make CreativeMornings happen monthly in Chicago.

Especially big thanks: to Tina Roth Eisenberg—Swissmiss—for inventing CreativeMornings in 2008. The fifth chapter was launched in Chicago, June 2011—my write-up and photos.

Read more about the people who make the Chicago chapter of CreativeMornings possible.
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2011 was Chicago CreativeMornings’ debut year. Download the entire collection of selected insights.

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