by Joseph R. Lewis
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.
But 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.
“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…”
“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.
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.
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.