WICKER PARK — It might be "Throwback Thursday" but come next month, you can own a photo of famed writer Nelson Algren wearing nothing but a towel in a North Avenue bath house, circa 1970 — or any one of thousands of photographs for sale by a Wicker Park photographer.
After 26 years in the neighborhood, Ron Seymour is packing up and leaving his home and studio at 1625 N. Milwaukee Ave., just north of the Milwaukee, Damen and North avenues intersection.
"It's been a nice trip. I love this building, my place, my castle," said Seymour, who has been a photographer since the 1950s, when he captured images of Maxwell Street.
Seymour, 78, prefers to call his photographs "time machines."
"Every once in awhile when someone calls for an old photograph of mine, I go down to my basement to begin to look for it. After about a half hour of searching through storage boxes, I have to stop. I'm emotionally drained from all the memories that the photos invoke. I call them 'Time Machines,' " Seymour wrote on his website.
During his career as a professional photographer, Seymour captured Michael Jackson in 1968 when Jackson was just starting out with the Jackson Five in Gary, Ind., as well as everyday people and landscapes all over the country and world.
Scheduled for 6-10 p.m. Nov. 14 and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 15 at Seymour's studio, prices on the prints, available framed and unframed, will start at $75 and go up to around a few thousand dollars.
The sale will include several local images, such as a Christmas scene circa 1993 inside the Midwest Bank lobby at 1601 N. Milwaukee Ave, which is now a Walgreens.
Seymour will also be selling portraits of Algren, taken in 1970 to accompany an Algren short story published in Playboy .
Algren was showering in the Luxor Turkish Bath House at 2039 W. North Ave. (now home to Trencherman) because the plumbing in his building wasn't working at the time, Seymour said.
After the sale, Seymour is headed to Louisville, though he made it clear he is not retiring.
"I don't retire, why retire? I take photos. That's what I do," the second-generation photographer said.
When Seymour opened his Wicker Park studio in 1988, he said that the area was so dangerous and gang-ridden that cab companies would hang up on him when he called.
Today, however, Seymour joked that it's "worse in a way."
"It's nuts on weekends: 2 a.m. drunks, throwing bottles and starting fights, p------ in my vestibule," he said.
Seymour predicted Wicker Park would only get better.
Referring to the Northwest Tower at 1608 N. Milwaukee Ave, across the street from his building, which is being converted into a boutique hotel, scheduled to open next summer, Seymour predicted that "as soon as the hotel is done; it will be jumping."
Lipe, who has been trying to lease out the building in advance of Seymour's move, said he was considering renting out the entire 5,000-square-foot property to one tenant.
"We don't have anything specific right now. The key is what to do with the second floor. We possibly would like one tenant for the whole building," Lipe said.
Lipe praised Seymour for taking good care of the building, which he said "has great vintage details" and original tin ceilings.
Echoing Seymour, Lipe said he believed the 1600 block of North Milwaukee Avenue, between the neighborhood's main intersection and the 606's Bloomingdale Trail, would improve in the coming years.
"That area [on Milwaukee Avenue] has been quiet north of Damen but it will change," Lipe predicted, citing a 36-unit apartment building with shared offices and retail coming to 1643-57 N. Milwaukee Ave. as one example.
Seymour's print sale is scheduled for 6-10 p.m. Nov. 14 and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 15 at 1625 N. Milwaukee Ave. and possibly Nov. 16, too. For more information, email Seymour or call 773-235-0161.
Editor's note: The date of the photo sale has been changed per the photographer's request.
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