Tag Archives: diy

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

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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.

SCUMBABIES NEARLY DESTROYED ME AS A GOOD MOVIE SHOULD

Back ‘bout September, 2010


I remember feeling the madness then, acutely, but I knew my way thru. When it came to ecstatic adventures and grand designs on destiny- best for me to just stay lost until I discover myself already arrived at a destination. But back in September, 2010 I was still very much mid-whirl.

I had set Halloween as my dream-date for debuting Scumbabies, Halloween being a kind of divine time for my family (much more-so than XMAS). I think it had something to do with escape from identity. In 20-20 hindsight, I recognize that as also  being why Scumbabies takes place on Halloween. I was eager to finish. Hell, I was desperate to finish.

The limbo into which I had flung myself so gleefully this time around had turned out to be much darker and expansive than any I had explored making my previous flicks. To find my way thru I made friends with dangerous demons and I was beginning to feel their oozes seeping down into parts of me that would not be easy to carve out. Each day that passed without SCUM completion necessitated the mastery of ever-more sharp and precise extraction knives.

That’s why I was lucky to meet Legendary Lew when I did.

Legendary Lew hailed from my hometown of Rochester, NY. There was something immediately recognizable about him. I liked his stories and his ideas, feeling immediately how they were cushioning me from rushing foreclosure of the very-bottom.

He gave elaborate, entertaining lectures at a nearby cinemateque – his personal mission to inform a largely disinterested public of the necessary knowledge they never knew they needed about movies and movements of which few had ever heard. Just my kind of maniac.

Legendary Lew invited me to screen a trailer for SCUM ahead of his talk on the glories of a short-lived genre of violent, sexy religious films grouped together under the name “nunsploitation”. Seemed to be appropriate company.

Whether we were aware of it or not, Legendary Lew was pushing me away from my madness. I wouldn’t complete SCUM for another few months, but seeing some of it’s footage up on a big screen in front of a raucous, receptive audience, was the first time it occurred to me that there may have been a reason for me to make SCUM other than my own uncontrollable wounding wanderlust. Before then, there was nothing but the search. But sitting in that theatre, I thought perhaps the searching would be over soon, and the sharing could start