Harmon-Meek Gallery of Naples, Florida, will host a solo exhibition by internationally acclaimed artist Jenness Cortez. On view February 11 through April 9, 2018, Cortez presents the latest installment in her series of thought-provoking paintings depicting iconic images that inspire viewers to rediscover and revalue their own creative potential.
Robert Yassin, former Executive Director of the Indianapolis Museum and 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 . . . In Cortez’s paintings, each work talks to us at many levels and creates in us a sense of both understanding and wellbeing. This happens because there is nothing arbitrary in Cortez’s 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, who also served as director of Tucson Museums of Art during his illustrious career, freely confides that “the paintings of Jenness Cortez make my heart sing,”
For centuries artists have been challenging their intellects and skills by paying homage to the painters who preceded them. Today, 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 appropriated vintage images and woven them into their own distinctive, recognizable fabric.
In her most recent work Cortez continues to reexamine the classic paradox of realism: the painting both as a “window” into an imagined space and as a physical object. In summarizing her creative process, Cortez explains, “Every painting begins with a vision seen in the artist’s mind. Sometimes the finished piece appears in the mind full-blown, and at other times it is amorphous––yet with some beguiling character that begs to be developed. In either case, between that first inspiration and the finished painting lie hours of research, thousands of choices and, of course, the great joy of painting. The process is organic. Even with a well-conceived composition in place, the painting has a life of its own and the best ones surprise even the artist with twists and turns that outshine the most clever of plans. It’s as if the creative spirit insinuates itself into the work, wanting to serve its own best interest with solutions that far exceed the artist’s original, limited vision.”
Each intricate Cortez creation challenges the viewers’ intellectual curiosity and celebrates the sheer pleasure of beautiful painting. In her Harmon-Meek exhibition, Cortez plays author, architect, visual journalist, art historian, curator and pundit to help open our eyes to what we might otherwise have overlooked or taken for granted. Each painting presents a specific theme, mixing straightforward cues and obscure allusions, complemented by references to other artists’ lives and times. In part, this year’s body of work pays homage to George Inness, Frederic Remington, Andy Warhol, Childe Hassam, Norman Rockwell, Salvador Dali, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Camille Pissarro. By masterfully presenting iconic works of art in unexpected modern settings, Jenness Cortez truly inspires us to see differently––to rediscover, revalue and reintegrate our own intuitive resources into the hurried and often stress-filled culture of modern American.
Jenness Cortez was born in 1944 in Frankfort, Indiana. She received her B.F.A. from the Herron School of Art in Indianapolis, apprenticed privately with noted Dutch painter Antonius Raemaekers and later studied with Arnold Blanch at the Art Students League of New York. Her work is in numerous public and private collections including those of Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, HM Queen Elizabeth, II, the New York State Museum and the Polk Museum of Art.
Since 1977, Perlmutter Gallery in Averill Park, New York has represented artist Jenness Cortez.