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Jenness Cortez unveils new western paintings at Trailside Gallery in Jackson Hole
“Conversations With a Cowboy”©By Jenness Cortez. Acrylic on mahogany panel, 30 by 40 inches.
JACKSON HOLE, WY.- As part of its annual Western Classics Show, Trailside Gallery in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, presents the first Western paintings by internationally acclaimed artist Jenness Cortez . On view August 11 - 24, 2014, Cortez employs the backdrop of the old west to unveil the next installment in her thought-provoking “Homage to the Creative Spirit” series. Among the many topics raised by her new Western art is Cortez’s heartfelt conviction that iconic images, when seen in familiar domestic settings, can inspire each of us to rediscover and revalue our own creative potential.

In her first foray into Western art, Cortez continues to reexamine the classic paradox of realism: the painting both as a “window” into an imagined space and as a physical object. 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 Cortez painting is meant to start a three-way conversation that includes the viewer, the subject matter and the artist. “To be of value,” Cortez says, “the visual conversation initiated by my paintings must have some significant meaning. And that meaning must be communicated clearly and understood by the viewer. In ‘Conversations with a Cowboy’ I am presenting--for the viewer’s contemplation—images that tell stories of what life might have been like for an American cowboy at the turn of the twentieth century.”

Each intricate Cortez creation challenges the viewers’ intellectual curiosity and celebrates the sheer pleasure of beautiful painting. In her new work, 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. 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 regimen of modern American life.

In “Conversations with a Cowboy” Cortez depicts two Frederic Remington paintings: “Stampede by Lightning,” from the Gilcrease Museum collection and “The Hunter’s Supper” from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Additional elements include “In Without Knocking” by Charles M. Russell from the Aaron Carter Museum, and a bronze sculpture by Alexander Phimister Proctor entitled “Buckaroo” from the Denver Art Museum.

Robert Yassin, former 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 . . . In Cortez’s 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 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, also former director of both the Indianapolis and Tucson Museums of Art, freely confides that “the paintings of Jenness Cortez make my heart sing,” while Bruce Helander, editor of The Art Economist, proclaims that the Cortez 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. 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.

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, HRH Queen Elizabeth, II and the New York State Museum.





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