February 29, 2004 Sunday
Chicago Final Edition
HEADLINE: TRISTAN MEINECKE, 88;
Chicago artist, architect, musician
BYLINE: By Hal Dardick, Tribune staff reporter.
Longtime Chicago artist Tristan Meinecke defied
categorization, whether by genre, movement or temperament.
"He never wanted to be categorized or pigeonholed," said his
son Bradford. "He was one of a kind, to say the least."
Mr. Meinecke, 88, a self-described "experimentalist," died
of heart failure Wednesday, Feb. 25, in St. Francis Hospital
He was born in Atchison, Kan., and raised in the Ann Arbor,
Mich., area. In many ways he took after his father, Bruno Meinecke, a
prominent Latin scholar at the University of Michigan who
also conducted symphonies.
At 5, Mr. Meinecke "drew virtually photo-realistic faces," his son
said. After studying art at the University of Michigan from
to 1942, he moved to Chicago in 1943. Mr. Meinecke, who
played the clarinet and saxophone, performed in the first
professional interracial (Black & Tan as the saying went) jazz band in
At the old Ballantine's restaurant in Chicago, Mr. Meinecke
met Lorraine Johnson, a TV actress and television pioneer,who
starred in a
children's show using the stage name Angel Casey. The couple
married in 1947.
In the 1940s and '50s, Mr. Meinecke focused on painting, the
artistic medium he was most interested in throughout his
life, said John Corbett, a teacher at the Art Institute of
Chicago who curated a retrospective of Mr. Meinecke's work
called "Tristan Meinecke: A Cantankerous Imagination."
"My father was a series of contradictions," his son said.
"He was very intelligent, but two-fisted. He was very
loving, but prone to rages."
Mr. Meinecke did both realistic and abstract painting,
setting him apart from other artists "in a time when people
were forced to choose between abstraction and figuration,"
Corbett said. In the mid-1950s, Mr. Meinecke created
"split-level paintings," which have canvas surfaces with one
painting style cut away to reveal other painted images in
another style underneath.
In the 1960s and '70s, Mr. Meinecke and architect Robert
Bruce Tague ran Meinecke Studio, an architecture firm. They
built houses, apartments and commercial structures in
Mr. Meinecke also wrote classical music "that had a lot of
dissonance, just like his paintings," his son said.
Another art genre Mr. Meinecke took on was writing. A short
story called "Sherwood Walk Straight" is being prepared for
publication next month in the journal Parakeet, Corbett
said. The story, written not long after Mr. Meinecke moved
to Chicago, is about his wonder at the big city, Corbett
In addition to his wife, Mr. Meinecke is survived by
two sons, Bradford and David Scott; and eight grandchildren. (Melissa, John, Ryan, Kyle, Philip, Lucas, Barbara and Katie)
Visitation will be held from 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday in Nelson
Funeral Home, 5149-51 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago. A funeral
will be held at 11 a.m. Monday in the Lutheran Church of St.
Philip, 2500 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Chicago.
Für Kunst, Gott, und Liebe, lebte ich
The Last Studio in 2004
rebelles esse ad mortem
They Loved each other for over 50 years
fidelis usque ad mortem
Tris and Angel
Truly an American Love Story