109 years and still celebrating: Nelson Algren


Nelson Algren in a 1956 photo

One hundred and nine years after his birth, Nelson Algren (March 28, 1909 – May 9, 1981) and his work will be celebrated for the 29th year by the Nelson Algren Committee on Sat., Mar. 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the Bloomingdale Artists Building at 2418 W. Bloomingdale

Algren, a former Wicker Park resident, is best known for his 1949 novel, Man with the Golden Arm.

Receiving this year's Nelson Algren Committee Award are Iwona Biedermann, photographer, owner Dream Box Gallery, 2415 W. North Ave., and Lowell Thompson, Chicago artist, historian, novelist and Dream Box Gallery catalyst. The honor is for doing yeoman’s work on behalf of the community while staying largely under the media radar. The  late New York journalist Jimmy Breslin will also be honored. 

The evening will begin with Erwin Helfer twinkling the ivories with boogie-woogie renditions of the time while the blues will be felt through the offerings of "Studebaker John" Grimaldi and Melodie Magnuson.

David Parr will not only preform magic but talk about the golden age of Chicago magic. Algren biographer Mary Wisniewski will talk about Nelson in the age of Trump and actor-director-writer-Algren adapter Gary Houston reads from Somebody in Boots, Nelson’s first, Depression-era novel.

On the multimedia front, local journalist Curtis Black will transport the audience back to the 1933 Century of Progress world’s fair and reveal the forgotten history of the Balbo Monument, while documentarian Freddie Bell will show clips from his film about veterans in crisis.

Filmmaker Denis Mueller, co-director of 2015’s Nelson Algren: The End Is Nothing, the Road Is All, will show scenes from a work in progress, featuring novelist Russell Banks talking about Nelson’s influence on him.

Architect Drew Bayley of the Polish Triangle Coalition will discuss plans afoot to transform the intersection of Division, Ashland and Milwaukee into a vibrant public space.

The evening will be replete with a $10 admission, drink tickets for an array of beverages, Algren books and memorabilia as well as complimentary snacks. 



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