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Modern love
Contemporary setting showcases owner's art collection



The Janis Joplin canvas in Jerry Janisí home office came to be following a fundraiser in which Janis was outbid for a painting of Willie Nelson by the same artist, who agreed to create this one for Janis. Every piece of art in Janisí collection has a story to tell.

Though he might not have realized it then, Jerry Janis began collecting art as a child on the day his great-grandfather gave him one of his paintings. His great-grandfather, a Latvian diplomat who lost everything in World War II, later moved to New York and became an insurance agent. "His third career was an artist," Janis says.

Like his great-grandfatherís paintings, each piece in Janisí ever-growing collection has a story associated with it. "A lot of it comes from traveling in Mexico, Brazil and South Africa, but also from artists Iíve known through my lifetime," Janis says, noting he has met most of the artists whose works he has collected.

After living in New York City, Washington, D.C., south Florida and Chicago, the Long Island native has been in Milwaukee for two-plus years, acquiring quite a few local works in that time.

He has six pieces by the Russian-born Boris Ostrerov, a MIAD grad now studying in New York City, and recently purchased a Charles Dwyer painting during MIADís Open Canvas event.

His Third Ward loft in the River Renaissance Condos was designed ó down to the wall colors ó to showcase his art. He collaborated with Laree Allen of Allen Kitchen and Bath, Milwaukee and Madison, in designing the raw space. "I had the vision and they made it come to reality," Janis says. "I definitely knew I wanted it to be as modern as possible."

He shed his formerly eclectic furniture style in 2007 while living in Chicago in favor of all modern furnishings. "A lesson I learned is just go with what you want and donít be constrained with the architecture," Janis says. "They say the same thing with artwork: You can make older pieces look great in a modern building."

Heís quickly running out space; some of the pieces are now in storage. "Iíve moved to sculpture because I have no more wall space," Janis says. 

The entryway to Janisí condo features his extensive art collection.



Modern furnishings and a mix of modern, traditional and ethnic artwork come together in the Third Ward condo that overlooks the Milwaukee River.


Exposed ductwork creates a modern dynamic in the condo. Glossy wenge wood cabinetry provides extra storage and adds a bit a formality to the adjoining dining/living area. A mosaic glass tile backsplash sparkles under the lights.


The media room is a multipurpose space for relaxing or entertaining. The room also includes a game table and wet bar. The artwork on the left is by a South African artist whom Janis met on a trip there.


A 10-foot painting by MIAD grad Boris Ostrerov is hung horizontally in the master bedroom, with permission from the artist.


Mosaic tile sets the color palette in the powder room. The homeowner collaborated with Laree Allen of Allen Kitchen and Bath, Milwaukee and Madison, in designing the condo.