Next year Chicago and maybe a few other places on the map will surely celebrate the centennial of his birth and life and work--hopefully in an offbeat and left-of-center manner, to match Algren's personality. This picture was taken by photographer Art Shay in about 1949 and shows Algren looking over a manuscript in his Wicker Park apartment. Shay was a good friend of Algren's and followed him around taking pictures during this time and for several years after, getting a glimpse of Chicago through Nelson's wise and weary eyes.
As we noted, Art Shay spoke at a Nelson Algren birthday tribute. The 99th birthday of Algren means we are now counting down the days until the Algren centennial. Here are Art Shay's thoughts for a proper celebration:
I share your correspondent's concern that Algren's centennial will be as unheralded as was his presence in his beloved Chicago. On the bright side , the Stephen Daiter Gallery is considering an exhibition of many of my Nelson Algren pictures and LookingGlass Theater is remounting the 2001 play they did on him that contains about 20 of my pictures of Nelson in his milieu. Ideally the Art Institute, Contemporary Museum or the Spertus Museum should consider a comprehensive show on one of our two greatest writers. I did my bit last year, using a dozen "Algrens" in my six month show at the Chicago History Museum.