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 cityscapes 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.
The artist has been exhibiting in New York since 1975 and has had more than 40 solo shows there and in 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.
Jenness Cortez lives and works in rural upstate New York with her husband, educator, author and founder of the American Meditation Institute, Leonard Perlmutter.