Tag Archives: shy city

Mediatrocities #17: Interview with John Rangel, director of “Remember Our Days”

by Ty Pi ~ @-[->

ROD Primary Image Final COPYLegendary Lew interviews filmmaker John Rangel (The Girls on Liberty Street) in the latest episode of “Mediatrocities.”  Topics include the projection of stereotypes in Hollywood cinema, independent film, and Rangel’s upcoming film Remember Our Days.  This film is currently seeking crowd-funding via Seed&Spark.  Click on this link to visit the page and contribute to the project.

This episode is NSFW

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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.

Eddie Balchowsky and Tristan Meinecke

by Joseph R. Lewis & Brad Meinecke


Eddie Balchowsky, the Fascist Hunter, was a Spanish Civil War veteran.  Pre-War he was a skilled concert pianist and artist.  Battle robbed him of his right hand and he returned to his native Chicago a  pain-killer junkie.  Over the course of many decades he became a local legend, playing deserted pianos all across the Northside with one hand and a stump.   He was the janitor at the historic Quiet Knight music club.  Jimmy Buffett wasn’t the only person to write a song about him.

One of the most exhilarating aspects of working on The Resurrection of Tristan Meinecke is that Brad will introduce me to Chicago stories such as Eddie’s.  Doubly exhilarating is the fact that Tristan’s life was so connected to the rugged ecstatic history of Chicago that his name comes up in connection with so many local legends.  The deeper I get into this resurrection, the more clearly I see the Meinecke family emerging as kind of cultural nucleus inspiring the city around them with they’re fiercely determined rebel autonomy…or as Eddie Balchowsky calls them in the colorful story below – “Chicago Royalty”.   XOX

Tristan and Angel at their Cleveland Street home.

“Everywhere my parent’s went they drew a crowd.”  – Brad Meinecke

EDDIE & DAD

Eddie and Dad were extremely tight.  Dad hated junkies.  Eddie was a classic heroin user.  If not for that he would’ve been over all the time.  As it was he was often at our house playing the piano.  Dad loved his one handed playing.

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Eddie Balchowsky

He was homeless but had umpteen homes.   He had one hand but played the piano . . . well.

He was junkie but to my knowledge never stole from friends.  Dad let him sleep in his office on numerous occasions,  never worried about theft.   He owned nothing but could eat free at some high end places, and everyone on the late night scene on Clark knew him.   He was known as the mayor of Clark street in the 70’s.

Once I was involved in an argument in a late night smorgasbord on Clark Street around 3am.   Bunch of folks yelling at me and I’m yelling back.   Suddenly this wizened little guy who looks like he hasn’t had a bath in a year sticks his head out of the crowd shouting-

Eddie grave“Everybody hold on for a second!  Son,  you’re about to get a royal ass kicking. You should leave now while you can.”

I said, “I don’t see anyone here who can kick my ass and y’all can serve me my dinner or grow some balls and try and kick my ass.   Your call.”

He cocks his head at me and asks my name.   I say,  “Brad Meinecke.”  He starts cracking up. Practically rolling on the floor.  Everyone is watching him like he’d gone mad.

“I knew you had to be a Meinecke!  I felt like I was talking to your Dad  a moment ago.  Your Dad is a great man with a huge heart.    I’m Eddie Balchowsky,  unofficial Mayor of Clark St.   You can eat here anytime.  I’m proud to eat with any Meinecke.  Clear a table, boys,  the son of Chicago royalty has come to visit…and if he’s anything like his Dad we’d better just leave him alone!”    That was the last time I saw him.   Eddie,  like my Dad, was larger than life.   A true Chicago original.

-BLM

2B Continued…

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.

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.

KASEY FOSTER is Chicago’s QUEEN B

QUEEN B XOXKasey Foster moved to Chicago in 2004.  She received her degree in Theatre and Dance from hometown college, Indiana-Purdue University of Fort Wayne. Over the last 9 years she has cultivated a reputation as one of Chicago’s most talented and respected underground theatre stars.

Kasey_Foster_1_loresShe has worked with Redmoon Theater often, performing in their annual Winter Pageants as well as Boneyard Prayer, The Princess Club, Once Upon a Time, and The Golden Truffle.  She has also worked with Dog n Pony, Collaboraction, Red Tape, Adventure Stage, and The Anatomy Collective.  Foster sings with local bands This Must be the Band, Grood, and The Dangerous Strangers.   Kasey has produced and choreographed variety shows at Martyrs’ and High Concept Labs including her original long-form dance pieces “Assignment #403” and “Dance Tribute to Mr. Bungle”. She has choreographed middle school productions of Bye Bye Birdie, Grease, and Fiddler on the Roof.  She is also a producer of Chicago talk show The Monthly Visit with Kevin O’Donnell.  She stars as Queen B in the music video adventure series SCI FI SOL.

How has the city of Chicago shaped your career as a choreographer and performer?

As a choreographer, Chicago has provided me with a bounty of talented people and opportunities to carry out my mad plans. As a performer I’ve learned a wide spectrum of performance styles, because you can find it all in Chicago. Devised to traditional to puppetry to clown to musical.  I feel that this experience is unique to Chicago.

Why is dancing important? 

Because everyone loves it. And they always will.


SCI FI SOL was your first large-scale movie production experience. Did the shoot leave any lasting impressions on you?

I was amazed to see the amount of details put into every shot.

How would you describe SCI Fi SOL? 

A masterpiece : )

When you host a party or produce an event what are you primary concerns? 

I’m most concerned with entertaining people.

Top three fave snack foods? 

Chips. Nuts. Grapes.

The Mystery of iO Comedy Club’s DAVE ASHER

Mystery of DAVE ASHER XOX

CLICK HERE to listen to a Multiplex X-Clusive track by iO Comedy Club Musical Director DAVE ASHER!