Cortez, Jenness
(American, Born 1944)

Jenness Cortez was born in Indiana and as a teenager studied with the classically trained Dutch painter Antonius Raemaekers.  She further developed her solid fine arts background as a graduate of the Herron School of Art in Indianapolis and student of Arnold Blanch at the Art Students league of New York.

Early in her career she worked as an editorial illustrator, then returned to her love of painting, with animals as her primary subject matter.  For twenty years (1977-1996) she skillfully portrayed horses – most notably thoroughbred racehorses.  In the mid-1990s a growing interest in again broadening the challenges of her work inspired Cortez to move from horses to landscapes, then to cityscape; and at last to interiors and still life painting where her focus remains today.  Since 2003 the “Homage to the Creative Spirit” series has been her primary mode of expression.  She continues to produce these superbly conceived and executed images  Each of her works touches upon important questions about the nature of painting and the significance of art objects, and presents subtle shades of meaning that invite contemplation.

Robert Yassin, Executive Director of the Palos Verdes Art Center refers to Cortez as one of the world’s most eloquent and successful visual conversationalists.  Yassin says that, “All art is a dialogue, a conversation through the medium of the artwork between the artist and the viewer.  It is the level of that dialogue that establishes the intrinsic value of a given work.  Among the many characteristics of a real work of art,” Yassin points out, “two are most significant and define both the quality and significance of the dialogue.  The first is that what the artist is saying must be meaningful; the second, that it is clearly communicated and understood.” Yassin believes that, “in Cortez” paintings, both criteria are more than fully met.  The work talks to us at many levels and creates in us a sense of both understanding and well-being.  This happens because there is nothing arbitrary in Cortez’ paintings.  The choice of the painting reproduced, the elements surrounding it, the space the elements occupy, the lighting, the color, everything is carefully selected and  orchestrated following a fully articulated plan determined by the artist.”  Yassin, former ddirector of both the Indianapolis and Tucson Museums of Art, freely confides that “The paintings of Jenness Cortez make my heart sing,” while Bruce Helander, of  ‘The Art Economist”, proclaims that her work has “an uncommon virtuosity and romance that make this unique artist a national treasure.”

For centuries artists have been challenging their intellects and skills by paying homage to the painters who preceded them.  Jenness  cortez has emerged as the twenty-first century’s most notable exponent of this facet of art history.  Her masterful work gives Cortez solid footing in the colorful lineage of artists who have appropriaed vintage images and woven them into their own distinctive, recognizable fabric.

Jenness has been exhibiting in New York since 1975 and has had more than 40 solo shows there as well as Florida, California, Maryland and Virginia.  Her work is in numerous public and private collections including those of the New York State Museum, Skidmore college, SUNY Empire State College, Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, and HRH Queen Elizabeth II.


19th, 20th & 21st Century American Paintings