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 photo-realistic faces," his son said. After studying art at the University of Michigan from 1938 to 1942, he moved to Chicago in 1943. Mr. Meinecke, who played the clarinet and saxophone, performed in the first interracial (Black & Tan as the saying went) jazz band in Chicago, his son said.
At the famous 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 contemporary styles.
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" was being prepared for publication 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
Obituary, Chicago Tribune February 29, 2004 (excerpts)
Information submitted by the artist's son.