The other day, I walked out of my apartment on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, only to discover a beautiful, freshly-created mosaic right in front of my building. It was in the street along the curb, guarded by orange traffic cones which read "Stolen From Bachor" and adorned with stickers of Lady Liberty raising a cone and the words "Pothole 2018". I was surprised at such a discovery, not only because I was unfamiliar with this artist and his work, but more-so because of the subject matter and the intriguing nature of this so-called "Pothole Project".
On this particular piece, there was a huge brown cockroach taking center-stage. I later learned (after a quick search on Instagram) that this was just one in the series Jim Bachor was creating in several locations around the city, filling potholes with art, in a series entitled "Vermin of New York". My interest was piqued for sure.
"Dead Cockroach" Bleecker, between LaGuardia and Mercer
And what's more is that in addition to the beautiful works themselves, he was also leaving goody bags for the lucky few who were paying attention and seeking out his work. Needless to say, I was one of those fortunate recipients of a goody bag that I found taped to the pay phone near the cockroach! (I'm competitive by nature.)
Contents of the Goody Bag on Bleecker Street
So, after spotting this first piece which put Jim and his project on my radar, I kept a close eye on his progress posts for each of his mosaic installations. It takes him roughly 8 to 10 hours to create each mosaic, which he then brings to the locations that have been found by a local scout to be appropriate for each piece. Working with an assistant, they install the mosaic work and allow it to set, generally overnight.
Generously for art seekers like myself, Jim has provided locations for each of the completed pieces. I learned that there were two more creatures on the streets of Brooklyn, and I soon came face-to-face with "Dead Rat" and "Dead Pigeon". I had to laugh at his tongue-in-cheek creations of some of New York City's most notable and often reviled creatures. (And yes, death is sad, but please remember, no animals were harmed in the making of these masterpieces.)
"Dead Rat" South Oxford Street, south of Dekalb
"Dead Pigeon" Pacific Street, south of Vanderbilt
Three down. Cockroach, rat, pigeon. He had alluded to the fact that there would be five pieces in all. But what did that leave? What other creatures were there? I was stumped. But then came the big reveal, and this was the best one yet, a creature arguably more reviled than all others. A true creature of New York, whether we choose to embrace that fact or not.
In the East Village, sitting in a former pothole, with a fresh puddle of urine not far away, is probably the most notable "vermin" of the bunch. The face of Donald Trump, cast in a mosaic-tiled frame, now sits squarely in the middle of 2nd street, between 1st Avenue and Avenue A. At the moment, it is fresh-faced and clean, but I don't imagine that will last long. I am sure many people who would take pleasure parking their car on this piece each day. (It's the little things in life, you know.)
"Trump" 2nd Street between 1st Avenue and Avenue A
So, what does that leave for piece number five? As a parting gift, as well as a reminder to not take it all too seriously, Jim left us with a "Bouquet" of flowers, a gesture to let us know this is all just in fun. So don't get your knickers in a bunch. There should be no calls to PETA or to the government for anti-American sentiment. It is art, and it's all in good fun. (Enjoy it, fellow New Yorkers.)
"Bouquet" 515 West 25th Street
For this last install, I met up with Jim and his nephew-assistant, Kevin, to catch a few work in progress shots and to meet the man behind the mosaics. After a night of heavy rain, the bouquet was quite water-logged, but after some serious sweeping and brushing to remove the moisture and debris, we were left with quite a lovely and colorful bunch of flowers. And the location, on a street with several parked NYC Taxicabs (equally iconic), seemed quite appropriate for the last in this series, a true gift for us to enjoy for some time to come.