Category Archives: Underground

Internet Hater Chris Dodd Wants Technology to Help Boost Sagging Theater Attendance

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by Legendary Lew

Variety reports that last year, attendance for the 18-24 year-old age bracket in movie theaters dropped like a stone. It’s serious because, you know, everyone else is dead and will never benefit from films aimed toward them:

The number of frequent moviegoers in the all-important 18-24 age group plunged an unprecedented 21% in 2013, according to MPAA annual statistics released Tuesday at Cinemacon, while attendance in the 12-17 age bracket also saw a precipitous drop off, falling almost 15%.

Frequent filmgoers from 12-24 are likely spending much of their previous moviegoing time watching a variety of other screens.

Well, heavens to Betsy, whatever shall a bloated, non-innovative, money-wasting, inefficient, money-gouging, hypocritical corporate entity do?!

I know! Call in MPAA head Chris Dodd to give the industry a pep talk:

“We need to keep exploring fresh ways of leveraging our new technology to drive traffic to your theaters,” Dodd insisted during his keynote address delivered Tuesday at CinemaCon in Las Vegas.

“We can embrace technology, and use it to complement our offerings,” Dodd added.

I practically shat blood laughing so hard when reading these statements. This is the same Chris Dodd that backed the SOPA and PIPA legislations–so much so that he extorted the White House to try and have its support. SOPA and PIPA would have destroyed the internet as we know it with opposition to the legislation coming from internet companies that regularly help Hollywood promote its films. The public response to Dodd and SOPA/PIPA supporters was a whole lot of this.

It’s also the same Chris Dodd that supported the arrest of Kim Dotcom, only to have the case against him implode over embarrassing allegations, not the least of which was Dotcom’s assertion that he was ready to start a legally-created IPO with MegaUpload. (Dotcom’s new company, Mega, has since created an IPO in New Zealand)

Now, Dodd wants to urge the industry to use technology, i.e the internet, to boost theater tix sales.  Never mind that he tried to explode it a couple of years ago and will, no doubt, try again, unless Dodd has some other new type of technology he wants to introduce to the world.  Oh wait, I forgot, Hollywood doesn’t have one.

Next time Chris Dodd gives a speech, I suggest this type of formal attire.

 

 

We’re Crazy to Have Waited So Long to See This Go

Meineckeclose

by Legendary Lew

This past Friday night marked a milestone in Chicago cultural history. It was the final night some very lucky art lovers were able to attend a gallery showing of master works in the artist’s original setting.  For the last two weeks, Brad and Scott Meinecke along with their crew of assistants entertained art buyers, visitors, gallery owners and others with the stories behind many of their dad’s art pieces.

But this evening was special, it was a farewell of sorts as some of the works of art had found new homes (over 50 pieces sold during the two weeks). Some friends of The Underground Multiplex stopped by as did some Meinecke family friends and associates.

Among those visiting was Gene, one of Tristan Meinecke’s proteges and his favorite one. She, in fact, helped Tristan create the found art piece commonly known as “The Image” out of a discarded tractor cover. Her recollections of Tristan and Angel Casey made for wonderful listening and put the evening into quite the perspective for me.

"The Face"

“The Image”

“Tristan was not crazy,” the spry 91-year old artist insisted, pointing a finger in a manner indicating she’s heard that accusation too many times before. “He had a mental illness.”

And indeed, Tristan Meinecke was not crazy. He was an irrepressible force of Meineckeclose2nature with a ferocious energy. You could see it in his work, displayed all at once in  his West Rogers Park cottage studio that will now be the stuff of art history.

The madness, the outrage, the playfulness–it was all there for the world to see for two short weeks.  Works hidden–in some cases over a half-century–from a previously uncaring and inattentive public.

We were the crazy ones.

The Meinecke/Casey saga continues. Head on over to the brothers’ home sites for Tristan Meinecke and Angel Casey:
www.tmeinecke.com
www.angelcasey.com

Be on the lookout for The Underground Multiplex TV show coming to CAN-TV! We’ll announce the show’s debut here on TUGM, so join us and check back often!

Untitled (The Official Tristan Meinecke Document Numbering System, Vol 1)

Paintscape no. 15: Punctum Contra Punctum

Paintscape no. 15: Punctum Contra Punctum

by Crystal

The above work is entitled “Paintscape no. 15: Punctum Contra Punctum”. Latin for point – counterpoint, the title leads us to consider the work as a visual debate, as a system in which diverse elements comment upon one another. Monochrome lines whose sweeping curves tease contradictory perspectives out of their sharp intersections weave across intermingled clouds of vivid color. A tag on the back displays the name, but the vast majority of Meinecke’s creations were untitled. This was likely a deliberate choice on his part. He preferred for each person to approach each work without any preconceptions.

1609646_10202941278755014_1189576616_nI ended up giving them all names and, for the most part, repeating those names at everyone until they stuck. Assigning each work an arbitrary number works wonderfully on a spreadsheet, but “b-43″ is not especially helpful if you’re calling down a narrow stairwell at someone who’s trying to find it in the dark. In that situation, “the rainbow one with the white lines across it” could narrow it down to this and perhaps four or five other paintings. And this is the only one that’s eight feet long. Thus, to me, Punctum Contra Punctum is a delightful, stress-free object which never once during the inventory process required me to tear out any of my hair or hiss at a fellow project member in frustration. Unlike many of its friends.

There are 263 items in the inventory. They range in size from 11″x12″ sketches on fragile tissue paper (1-84) to the gargantuan split-level that measures out at 97″x50″x4.5″ (pic of b-60 leaning against a ceiling beam).

1-84

1-84

Frames, when present, can be elaborate or simple, and are often painted or uniquely shaped in such a way that they are integral parts of the artwork. A significant number of pieces could legitimately qualify as either painting or sculpture. Most are entirely abstract – though we have a running joke that if you look at any Meinecke creation long enough, you’ll see a face in it.

A guest pointed out the face in this one (1-25) to me, just yesterday, at the end of the second week of the gallery show. I was appropriately flabbergasted and burst out laughing.

Eight months ago I began my own exploration of the Meinecke family’s ground floor and basement. My original task was simply to inventory all the art it contained, and to create an organizational system which would make it possible

1-25

1-25

to keep track of all the items while the collection was cleaned and moved to a storage facility. From my experience in administrative work I knew for certain that this would be an exasperating and tedious task.

I had only the faintest suspicion that it would also be a magical adventure.

Chaos cannot be subdued. Order is forever running after it with cameras begging for a quote. In this series, I invite you to follow in hot pursuit as I strive to create the final, definitive, official Tristan Meinecke document numbering system.

Underground Gallery Sells 30K in Excavated Art in One Night

In the late summer of 2013, year of the XTRACT, the sons of Tristan Meinecke partnered with The Underground Multiplex (TUGM) to resurrect the story of their iconic rebel parents.  TUGM is one of the Shy City’s most ardent supporters of local underground art, and the art of patriarch Tristan Meinecke was as underground as it gets- literally!

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Tristan Meinecke in his home studio, late 50s. Location of pictured art pieces still unknown.

The career of Chicago’s forgotten lunatic genius spanned over five decades and included successful forays into nearly every art medium available.  His mastery was well-known by those that knew of him, but mental illness and his commitment to his family led him to eschew the art world entirely.  He never stopped working, and after 88 years of pushing every boundary he ever encountered, Tristan passed in 2004.  Everything he ever made that wasn’t sold (about 1/3 of his total canon) was found in the basement of the building inherited by his sons, Brad and Scott.

VIDEO – First inspection of the Meinecke basement by TUGM co-founder Joseph R. Lewis

Their mother, Lorraine ‘Angel’ Casey was a television pioneer.  She was amongst the first wave of producers and performers to migrate to the nascent medium from radio.  At the height of Chicago radio’s popularity in the the forties, she was the Queen- literally!   Queen of Chicago Radio 1946!  She performed in over a thousand live tapings that year!

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Controversial bi-racial promo pic for Angel Casey’s “The Play House”

She produced and performed in the very successful “Play House” kids show in the mid-fifties and received death threats for demanding that bi-racial promotional material be developed to include the African-American audience in her viewership.   Just as Tristan withdrew from the art scene, Angel eventually withdrew from showbiz to focus on family.  They were married for more than fifty years.   Memorabilia and artifacts from Angel Casey’s reign as a Chicago media pioneer were discovered alongside the art of her husband…down in the basement.

The task of excavating the basement was immense.  Hundreds of pieces of art and records outlining the full careers of two iconoclastic Chicago rebels were packed into every crevice of this dark, dirty cave in West Rogers Park.   Together TUGM and the Meinecke sons designed a plan to unearth everything and coordinate the excavation with a focused transmedia promotional campaign leading up to an unprecedented DIY gallery opening in the very same basement and adjoining building where the discovery was made.  The Meinecke’s would build and manage the gallery, and TUGM would build and manage the media.

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On Friday, February 8th, 2014, year of the ELEVATION, the gallery opened.  It will stay open for a couple more weeks.  You should check it out.  XOX

READ MORE About the Gallery Opening in THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE
Watch the TUGM Excavation Videos
Read the full TUGM transmedia story
Learn more about the history of Tristan Meinecke’s art
See pictures from the career of Angel Casey

GALLERY OPENING PICTURES BELOW

Happily Ever After for Chicago’s Original Hipster Couple

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Brad Meinecke, Pepsi Stage at Summerfest, 1978. Notice his father’s painting behind him.

Brad Meinecke descended from Chicago Royalty.  His father, Tristan, was a successful musician, artist, architect, and family man.  Brad’s mother, Lorraine “Angel” Casey, was one of the earliest media celebrities the Windy City ever produced and an exemplary mother and wife.   Together, Tristan and Angel were THE original Chicago hipster bohemian couple.

The Excavated Studio of Tristan Meinecke opens Friday, February 7th for a limited time only.

Brad Meinecke will appear on Live from the Heartland on Saturday, February 1st at 9AM to discuss the Resurrection of Tristan Meinecke and the enduring Chicago legacy of his royal parentage.

Listen live online at http://wluw.org/
or via radio waves at 88.7FM in Chicagoland

TESTIMONIAL BY BRAD MEINECKE~

This story, and this exhibition, are fundamentally about life, and about two people who really did live happily ever after. Tristan Meinecke and Angel Casey had great success at many noble things. They balanced careers with raising a family. They remained loyal to one another through thick and thin.

ac_tm_piano_cleveland_800Together, they did battle against the insularity of the art scene and the prejudices of society while continuing to have good friends and good times. Tristan struggled with bipolar depression – a condition very little understood in those days – and strove to manage its symptoms so that it did not hold him back from being a husband and father. And through it all, both in spite of life’s struggles and because of them, he was a prolific creator.

tris_angel_60s_pool_sized_300Thus what we are celebrating is not Tristan’s death but the fact that he really knew how to live. He was a modern renaissance man, a two-fisted da Vinci scowling through the back alleys of Lincoln Park, well before it was today’s posh enclave. His legacy of art and architecture was part of the movement which transformed a slum into one of Chicago’s iconic neighborhoods. We study great people from the past, in part, because we want to become like them in the future. Every creative person involved in this ‘resurrection’ project has had the same thought: “Someday I want to create something this worthy to be remembered.”

If you want to experience a deeper connection with our departed neighbor, we enthusiastically recommend the following methods:

1. Appreciate the art he created! One of the wonderful things about art is that it allows people to share a bit of their inner lives, the experiences of the mind and spirit, through a shared knowledge of the work.

2. Spend quality time with his family! It’s a physical fact that a part of you lives on in your children, in the DNA that shapes their bodies. But the words and deeds of people reveal their character. You can hear real stories, ask your own questions, see family photos, all while standing in the space where Tristan stood while creating many of these compositions.

3. Get inspired! One of the wonderful things about good art is that it leads to more art. For example,  Glenn Schreiner, an artist to whom the Meinecke Project owes a great debt, has enriched his style of painting through his intimate interaction with the art of Tristan Meinecke. Studying and learning to describe the art, architecture and history here has taken Crystal Eidson’s poetry and prose to places it’s never been before.

Who knows what avenues of creative discovery will open up once you start exploring?

There is only one way to find out!

We’ll see you soon.

The Gallery of Chicago’s Hysterical Lunatic Genius Opens February 7th

BurningAwareness

Burning with Awareness (1958-1963)

by Legendary Lew

I was trying to expand the medium of painting. Above all I wanted to do away with “good composition”. I aimed at breaking down form. I changed the shape of the work and quit relying on frames. I aspired to total hysteria.
– Tristan Meinecke

Suppose you were contacted one day by the family of a man they said was very close to international fame in the art world. Once you check out the years of art work in the small building currently housing them, you discover that the hundreds of pieces of art have a resonance, vibrancy and vitality unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. You realize you’re standing in the presence of an artist deserving a stature as great as– or even greater than–many of his contemporaries already deemed masters: Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko or Phillip Guston.

This experience happened to me and now, through the help of The Underground Multiplex and the Meinecke family, you have a chance of viewing a master’s works up close and personal in his studio building beginning Friday, February 7th.

The Meinecke Family (sons Brad and Scott) are opening up the Meinecke building to the public and press for a once-in-a-lifetime viewing of the astonishing work of their dad, Tristan Meinecke, an incredibly restless force of nature producing not only hundreds of art pieces during his lifetime, but also performing self-taught jazz and co-founding an architectural firm with Robert Bruce Tague that transformed Lincoln Park.

Among some of the notable traits of Tristan Meinecke’s work was the split-level paintings and shadow boxes displaying a 3D effect that were sometimes only discernible from a distance…

DangerousCurves

Dangerous Curves (late 1950s)

…and also the use of discards. Tents, stray wood pieces and even asphalt freshly poured onto the street in front of his house would be included in some of his masterworks.

The Face 5 Canvass

The Face

As Joe Lewis had written previously, Meinecke and his wife, influential Chicago radio performer and TV host Angel Casey, were a power couple of arts and culture who together were renaissance figures interwoven into the fabric of Chicago.  Learn about both of them at the Meinecke Gallery showing on the following dates:

Opening Night Reception:
Friday, February 7
6pm – 10pm
The Underground Multiplex in attendance

Gallery Shows:
Saturday, Feb. 8 at 12Noon – 3pm
Sunday, Feb. 9 at 12Noon – 3pm
Wednesday, Feb. 12 at 5pm – 8pm
Thursday, Feb. 13 at 5pm – 8pm
Friday, Feb. 14 at 5pm – 8pm
Saturday, Feb. 15 at 12Noon – 3pm
Sunday, Feb. 16 at 12Noon – 3pm
Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 5pm – 8pm
Thursday, Feb. 20 at 5pm – 8pm

Closing Night Reception:
Friday, Feb. 21
6pm – 10pm
The Underground Multiplex in attendance

Check with The Underground Multiplex for further developments and also check out the following sites:
www.tmeinecke.com
www.angelcasey.com
The Art of Tristan Meinecke on Facebook
Meinecke Project on Twitter

His Wife is Famous and He’s Crazy

by Joseph R. Lewis

“Vignette” by Tristan Meinecke was exhibited at the Art Institute in 1963

“My father’s last words were, ‘Tell your mom I never cheated on her!’  But before that he looked right at me and said, ‘Take care of my paintings.’”

Brad Meinecke pauses briefly. For a loquacious Midwestern Mid-Lifin’ Lothario like Brad, even brief pauses seem long.  His father’s building will be gone soon.  He’s worried.  You can tell.  But he’s Chicago.  It ain’t over.

tm_cantankerous_fthrdTristan Meinecke, Brad’s father, passed away in 2004 at 88 gruff years of age widowing his wife of nearly six decades.  She had been the darling of Chicago radio and television back in the fifties, back when everything was produced local. Angel Casey was the star of early Chicago children’s show The Playhouse as well as the world’s first wave of soap operas, a marketing gimmick invented right here in the Windy City.  Brad once heard a Chicago policeman bark about his father- “That guy’s trouble!  His wife is famous and he’s crazy!”

live_radio_reading_cropped_sized_800Tristan Meinecke and Lorraine “Angel” Casey had raised their family in a building down on North Cleveland street in present-day posh Lincoln Park.  Back then, though, it was less posh and more piss and spit.  Oz Park was Little Vietnam and soon the Great Daley would raze the whole damn thing and be done with it.  I imagine Tristan didn’t like the idea of urban renewal much.  He seems the sort to see the gold in dirt.  He saw the thresh swinging, though, and faired quite well.

Interior of the Meinecke’s early Lincoln Park home

He wanted to build an X-shaped home for his family so he took a year and taught himself how to be an architect.  He partnered up with his friend Robert Bruce Tague and together they were instrumental in the design and construction of the new Lincoln Park.  Nobody ever let him build that X-shaped building, though.

City-building…Just the kind of project a manic creative mind would need to stay focused.  And this was the sixties, after all.  No SIMS yet.

The Meinecke’s left Lincoln Park.  They settled in West Rogers Park, in this building Brad inherited from his parents.  Tristan’s art studio dominated an adjoining ex-saloon space with accompanying creepy basement.

Tristan toiled and tinkered endlessly.  He would be up for weeks at a time before passing out for days of deep mental and emotional hibernation.  By the seventies he’d long abandoned active exhibition of his art. His career as a prominent visual artist in 1950s Chicago was defined by the surrounding community’s inability to keep up with him.

By the time the public came around to liking what he was doing, he was doing something else and staunchly refused to do commissioned work.  Galleries struggled to put together “coherently-themed” shows.   The Surrealists adopted him for a time, but no label stuck for long.  He was always changing.

It also didn’t help that curators were afraid of getting punched and thrown down a flight of stairs.  These were legitimate concerns.  He stopped showing, but he never stopped working.

Jazz players 2But his work sold well for a time.  His family estimates he created over 800 pieces in his life.  Around 500 sold…the rest are in the basement.

After Tristan passed away the family moved to the basement all the remnant relics of the patriarch’s massive collection.  It is the life’s work of an artist dedicated to the exploration of the deepest depths of this stream called time.   Fittingly, he loved to fish.  His rods are still in the basement, too.  But not for much longer.

Burning with Awareness by Tristan Meinecke. 72″x48″x8″

The rods, along with the 200-plus paintings, collages, sculptures, the large-scale split-level shadow boxes, the hand-written string quartet arrangement, the 300-page hand-typed autobiography, the tractor bag Tristan fashioned into a huge face, the hand-rendered architectural plans of Meinecke-Tague Architectural studios,  the sound recordings of he and his drummer brother Phil playing jazz dives back in the 40s, the pictures of Angel…all of it has to go somewhere else.  Brad doesn’t know where.  Neither does his brother Scott.  They sit together in their father’s old office.  They’re worried.  You can tell.  But this is Chicago.  It ain’t over.

The Current Excavation of Tristan Meinecke

THE RESURRECTION OF TRISTAN MEINECKE
Visit the excavated studio of lunatic genius Tristan Meinecke in it’s final days of existence…
Exclusive Gallery Hours coming  this February in Chicago, Illinois.

Stay tuned to follow the adventure at The Underground Multiplex and the official Tristan Meinecke portal.

Chicago’s Forgotten Lunatic Genius

by Joseph R. Lewis

Brad Meinecke, son of Tristan

Last summer I was directing the Youth Media program at Chicago Filmmakers.  One of my students had been signed up for my class by his parents and clearly had no direct interest in media production.  He liked Judo.  He was a champion butt-kicker.

wrapped woman 6But he held his own amongst a throng of supreme media-geeks and even verbally sparred with his sassiest female classmates to great success.  He was strong and eloquent and charming just like his father, as I soon came to discover.

His dad , Brad, would pick him up from camp occasionally.  He was a brick building of a man- the kind that could derail a train.  Sharp eyes, sand-paper stubble, with an aggressive gift for gab.  He told great stories like a great storyteller.  He knew when to be loud and when to whisper. As is true of most natives to this Midwest Metropolis, he loved talking about Chicago.

One day near the end of the summer I was sharing with Brad my adventures in urban archaeology.  I told him of the discovery of The Lost Marionettes and our impending rescue mission.  He leaned back and laid a big hairy eyeball on me.

Stylized_Blonde“I should tell you about my father.”

“Who’s your father?”

“My father came this close-“ Brad raised his hand and shoved it in my face, his thumb and finger pressed together tightly, “to being an internationally famous artist.  He’s one of the Chicago Greats…but nobody remembers him anymore…”

“Why not?”

“Because he was a genius…and a lunatic.”  He stared at me for a moment calmly, knowingly.  “His name was Tristan Meinecke.”

I expected a torrent of abusive tales and rueful recollections.  Instead, what I’ve been shown in these past few months is an ever-deepening picture of adventure, love, family, and rebellion unlike any that I’ve ever seen.    It’s like good jazz thumping across six decades in rhythm with the powerful heartbeat of our native city.

Tristan Meinecke. b. 1916 d. 2004

Where to begin?  Tristan the infant savant? Tristan the self-taught jazz musician?  Tristan the two-fisted?  Tristan the architect?  The father?  The husband?  The author?  The anti-racist?  The surrealist?  The manic depressive?  The composer?  The bulldog?

Only one thing is apparent- He lived the kind of life that can only be lived here, in this crossroads city called Chicago.
2B Continued…HERE
XOX

THE RESURRECTION OF TRISTAN MEINECKE
Visit the excavated studio of lunatic genius Tristan Meinecke in it’s final days of existence…
Exclusive Gallery Hours coming  this February in Chicago, Illinois.

Stay tuned to follow the adventure at The Underground Multiplex and the official Tristan Meinecke portal.

If You Want to Know What The Underground Multiplex is All About, Come to Our Series on Friday Nights in January

by Legendary Lew

Earlier Effort by Joe

Starting tomorrow night at Chicago Filmmakers, The Underground Multiplex will be presenting what will be, in fact, perhaps the most comprehensive overview of what we’ve been up to since our inception in November 2010.

Back then, director Joseph R. Lewis and I had this crazy notion that perhaps we should begin an internet media co-operative that focused on the greatness of independent underground entertainment. We further emphasized that Chicago had to be the main focus of our attention, as we believe (and still do) that the decentralization of entertainment, with the advent of the internet, can help bolster each different region’s importance in the arts. Spreading this idea could keep very talented Chicago artists home, instead of fleeing to NYC or LA for the temporary fix of finding work that immediately pays something.

Film genius Ernie Tarte will be there for Strike That Line! 1/24

Film genius Ernie Tarte will be there for Strike That Line! 1/24

Joe had already made a number of films for over a decade. One of those films, The Adventures of Miss Girl, gets its world premiere tomorrow night along with Sci Fi Sol, which makes its return to Chicago screens this year.

However, this Friday series–dubbed “Friday Night VOLUME“–will present a fuller menu of what TUGM has to offer. As we progressed over the years, we’ve learnedQUEEN B XOX to perfect (out of necessity) presenting a variety of experiences for little money. As will be the case with VOLUME, we’ll have films, vaudeville-type entertainment, a varied music soundtrack, live Q&A and live performances (including Dr. Dredd’s Wagon of Wonders and the first-ever live presentation of the radio comedy Strike That Line!

Please join us! Check this link for the entire line-up. Head over to Chicago Filmmakers to purchase pre-show tickets.

 

Closing the Chapter on The Lost Marionettes

Poster BW FBAs 2013 closes, The Underground Multiplex closes a chapter with the Lost Marionettes. Through the Kickstarter campaign, we raised great awareness of the artwork of Ralph Kipniss with the hopes that the publicity will help him and Marilyn Giedraitis find further gigs. Although we did not reach the financial goals, we were able to raise money to help out Ralph in his time of need.

There are promising leads for 2014, and we will most certainly keep you updated on further developments. Our thanks to those who donated and for our readers for their support!

And our special thanks to Ralph Kipniss and Marilyn Giedraitis for their graciousness and generosity! We are confident the marionettes will find their way out to a permanent home for all of Chicago (and the world) to see.

And thanks to all of you out there across the globe for the support and love.  Can’t wait to share a new crop of exciting adventures with all of you in the year ahead! XOX