Andrea on Algren

You know she makes an artful Manhattan — but did you know what she could do with a canvas larger than a rocks glass? Hideout bartender Andrea Jablonski recently completed this gorgeous mural at the Harlem Green Line stop in Oak Park. The rugged subject: Nelson Algren, who once lived a stone’s throw from the Hideout, on a stretch of Wabansia later razed to build the expressway that now separates us from Bucktown proper. Since Mr. Algren was not available to sit for a portrait, Andrea found inspiration in Art Shay’s many photos of his longtime friend.

So far, people seem to like it. Ann Fisher’s Flickr photo of the finished mural was picked as WBEZ’s “Daily Photo” on May 13, and was featured in Chicagoist’s Around Town series on the 14th. Here’s some background on the mural project, from the Oak Park-River Forest Patch. And here’s a sort of unintentionally hilarious attempt at interviewing Andrea as she painted, courtesy of TribLocal. Nice outfit, girl!

The mural’s text is from Algren’s Never Come Morning, the tale of a small-time hood and boxer and his girlfriend trying (and mostly failing) to scrape by in the Polish ghetto then-centered around Division, Milwaukee, and Ashland. Got some time on your hands? Read this thoughtful essay on the book, written in 2009 to honor what would have been Algren’s 100th birthday .

Don’t have time to read? Too busy riding the rails to Oak Park? Then just be sure to take a gander at Andrea’s work in all its cement glory.

PS: Item! Rumor on the street is that Johnny Depp, who fell hard for all things Algren while he was shooting Public Enemies in 2008, may be producing and starring in an Algren biopic shooting in Chicago next year. !!!