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Capturing The American Zeitgeist In An Ancient Medium: The Mosaics of Jim Bachor


Evidence of Burberry 2005 14 x 11 inches. Smalti, marble, cement.

Chicago-based Jim Bachor is an accomplished art director with several Fortune 500 companies in his portfolio.  Clients ranging from John Deere to the Brookfield Zoo have looked to Bachor to create highly successful graphically-driven strategic marketing campaigns.  In this part of his life, Bachor has used paper, ink and pixels to create art with a purpose.

For his personal art, however, Jim Bachor chooses mosaic.  He employs the same labor-intensive techniques and design principles that drove ancient mosaic-makers to graphically explore decidedly contemporary questions.  The result?  Timely, cheeky and always intelligent takes on the great American zeitgeist that play concept against medium.

His Evidence series is a great example of this juxtaposition of subject matter and the matter used to explore the subject.  Here, Bachor looks at American consumerism –  or the ephemeral nature of the “things” that define us – through a medium that is the very antithesis of ephemeral.

Evidence of Nike 2010 14 x 17 inches Smalti, marble, cement.

One can just imagine an archeologist patiently sweeping away millenia of detritus to uncover a Roman patrician draped in Burberry or a gladiator clad in Nike.  Bachor’s “Evidence series facilitates some great mental chuckles followed by musings that are existential.  What parts of us will last? What has real value for us? What will we be remembered for?

From Bachor’s artist statement:

Trying to leave your mark in this world fascinates me.  Ancient history fascinates me.  Working on an archaeological dig in Pompeii in 2001 melded these two interests for me when I discovered mosaics.  In the ancient world, mosaics were used to capture images of everyday life. Those colorful pieces of stone or glass set in mortar are the photographs of empires long past.  They do not fade.

Recently, while the American public raged over the introduction of “pink slime” into the food chain, Jim Bachor was putting the finishing touches to the second mosaic in his “Fresh Meat” series, Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts.

Boness Skinless Chicken Breasts 2012 11 x 14 inches Smalti

Chuck Pot Roast 2012 11 x 14 inches Smalti.

The “Fresh Meat” series juxtaposes the unstable, ever-changing nature of the subject matter with the near indestructible character of the mosaic technique. It captures something today that will certainly look – and be – very different tomorrow.

Bachor has a special affinity for early Christian mosaics.  Here, in his “Patron Saints of Chicago” series, he employs the iconic Byzantine design element of a halo to portraits of two infamous local politicians.

St. Blagojevich 2011 14 x 11 inches Smalti, gold smalti, marble.

St. Daley 2011 14 x 11 inches Smalti, gold smalti, marble.

Again, Bachor uses a timeless medium to ask questions about how these men will be perceived in the future. Will they be remembered as saints or sinners?

As we said before, Bachor’s work is often characterized by his lovely, cheeky sense of humor.  In his “Holy” series, the artist forces us to think about how we glorify and fetishize items which are, in fact, merely consumable commodities.

Holy Big Mac 2005 8 x 8 inches. Smalti, gold smalti, marble.

Holy Cupcake 2002 8 x 8 inches Smalti, gold smalti, marble.

When is a hamburger more than just a hamburger?  Or a cupcake more than a cupcake?  Or water more than just water?  More important, how did we get here?  Bachor’s background as an art director is surely a great source of inspiration for these works.  He is also the devoted (read “totally smitten”) father of twin sons.  We can’t help but imagine that these mosaics are also the product his struggles as a parent helping his children learn to make good decisions for themselves.

Holy Water 2005 8 x 8 inches. Smalti, gold smalti, marble.

Bachor is also not above taking a pretty good pot shot at himself . . .

St. Me 2004 14 x 11 inches Smalti, gold smalti, marble.

. . . or riffing on an icon from the world of fine art painting to take a mosaic pot shot at the art “establishment.”

This Is Not A Craft (After Magritte) 2010 11 x 14 inches Smalti and marble.

Come to think of it, This Is Not A Craft would look quite fetching on MAN’s business cards . . .

Jim Bachor is a thoughtful, intelligent and insightful artist who has chosen mosaic as his medium to explore existential themes.  We keep wondering why some gallerist hasn’t snapped him up.  Maybe after reading this, someone will.

Enjoy –  Nancie

UPDATE March 2013

Bachor’s Fresh Meat Series won a Juror’s Choice Award in Mosaic Arts International 2013 at the Tacoma Museum of Glass.  Read more here.


Bachor’s Super Realistic Snack Series was shown in “Transposition” a site-specific invitational in Seattle, WA. Read more here.

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  1. Melanie Watts Mosaics

    Brilliant Mosaic Art ! Highly comical it made me laugh :) Very refreshing and lovely work !

  2. Sheila

    LOL :~)) Brilliant! where would we be as humans without the fine art of humor and humor in fine art! Jim Bachor is a genius in his own write…..

  3. Joe

    Thanks for the article, Nancie. I study more than five years the stories and reports on Mosaic Art, I work all day and every day is another learning. I am very happy to have articles like this which enriches our knowledge.
    Sincerely, Joe – Brazil

    • Nancie

      Joe, I am so happy to know that you are finding inspiration in Mosaic Art NOW. It is the reason we do what we do. Much success to you in your mosaic endeavors.

  4. Wonderful article and introduction to such a fantastic and exciting mosaicist. I love Jim’s work and I am glad we can celebrate his work.

    • thanks luis for your kind words – i’ll keep hammering away at it!

  5. Nancie, thanks for this article. I am a big fan of his art, and you introduced me to some more just now.

    • Nancie

      You’re welcome, Lynn! Jim deserves a good fan club, don’t you think?

    • thanks lynn – everything i’ve ever done is up at
      (now that i think of it, perhaps i should pare a few down.)

  6. I wish I had made most of those!

  7. Dear Jim, your work makes me miss Chicago. I like the choice of white opus regulatum background for the Fresh Meat series. Very ol’ skool Butcher Shoppe. Will all the meat be from Jewel, (or rather Jewel-Osco SUPERVALU chain) ? Pleas advise, and rock on brother.

    • YES! of course all of the meat is from Jewel! gotta use that Jewel Card to get a discount!

  8. Very, very clever! Thank you Nancy for sharing Jim’s art with us.

    • Nancie

      So happy you enjoyed the article, Debbie. Thank you for the comment!

    • thanks debbie – i’ll keep at it!

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