Greg Jaris Unleashed

Like his visitors, Jaris puts in long hours. He’s in his home studio each morning, the two dogs by his side. Even if a slump hits, you’ll find him there, perhaps just reading. "Go to the studio. If anything’s going to happen, you have to be there." Afternoons he often mows, walks the dogs and makes dinner. Then it’s back to the studio all evening. "That’s what I love about him," says Linda. "He’s obsessive. He’s compelled. That’s what’s attractive to me. He’s the most creative person I know."

Visitors most often describe Jaris’s art as "whimsical," a term Greg and Linda debate. "It’s too light for what Greg does," Linda says. Indeed, whimsical can’t capture the raw energy in a Jaris piece. He lifts up moments. He highlights the simple joys of turtle seeking, sparkler games or simply coming home to your dog. These personal – yet universal – moments most of us are often too busy to notice.

After a busy summer season, Jaris has time to turn to the home front. He’s spotted a maple that would host a great treehouse and plans to build an outdoor wood-fired pizza oven for family dinners.

Then again, you might find Jaris plying Wisconsin backroads in search of eccentric yard art or touring museums in New York or Chicago. But don’t expect to find him in the art museums. He’s more likely to be at the The Field Museum, Chicago’s lode of natural history, or sampling treats at the Cupcake Café in Hell’s Kitchen. Perhaps that’s also thanks to his mentor, Raynor. "I showed him an art magazine one time," says Jaris, "and he said, ‘I don’t read that, I read National Geographic.’ That’s where your ideas and inspiration come from. That’s life."

Together the Jarises reinvent Trick Dog gallery each year. He’ll bring art created over the winter and install a new outdoor sculpture. Both Greg and Linda would like to add public workshops to their repertoire soon. New for 2007 will be slightly shortened gallery hours. "We’re taking Wednesdays off," says Jaris. Maybe that will give him time to take his dogs out for a row and refresh the trick in Trick Dog. Whatever lies ahead, you can bet Jaris will keep life on the edge. "If we’re going to do it, we’ll do it with our hair on fire," he says.

See Greg Jaris’s work at Trick Dog Gallery in Elberta. 231-352-8364, trickdoggaallery.com.

Heather Shumaker writes from Traverse City. [email protected]

Note: This article was first published in July 2007, and was updated for the web February 2008.

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