About: Jessica Portner

I’m a contributing writer for the Iris. As a journalist, I've covered science, education, and art, both as a staff writer for The San Jose Mercury News and as a freelancer for The Washington Post and the Science Channel. I've also studied political philosophy, surrealism, and Shakespeare. I grew up in L.A. and have been tooling around museums since I was in kindergarten.

Posts by Jessica

Posted in Art, Exhibitions and Installations, J. Paul Getty Museum, Photographs, Film, and Video

Herb Ritts’s Revolutionary Props

Greg Louganis, Hollywood / Herb Ritts

Chains. Pedestals. Balloons. Sea creatures. Those are just some of the props that photographer Herb Ritts employed to set a scene, adorn his models, and capture the viewer. The exhibition Herb Ritts: L.A. Style, on view through August 26, contains… More»

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Posted in Photographs, Film, and Video

L.A.’s Cinematic Experiment, Then and Now

Kenneth Anger and Raymond Rohauer in front of the Cinema Theatre, Los Angeles, 1964

Los Angeles is known as a Hollywood town, but our film scene has always been about more than stars and blockbusters. Throughout the Pacific Standard Time era, experimental cinema screened across town and played a major role in the art… More»

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Posted in Architecture and Design, Behind the Scenes, Exhibitions and Installations, J. Paul Getty Museum

Creating a Canvas for “Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents”

Gallery view of Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents at the Getty Center

As you move through Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A.: Painting and Sculpture, closing this Sunday, the colors of the walls or the unusual angles of the wall panels might not be the first thing you notice. But Museum designers… More»

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Posted in Education, J. Paul Getty Museum

Will the Real Los Angeles Please Stand Up?

Reed Johnson (moderator) with, from left, filmmakers Thom Andersen and William Friedkin and film critics Richard Schickel and Kenneth Turan

Impersonal concrete sprawl. A surfer’s paradise. A dark battleground of grisly crimes. Los Angeles is a regular character in the movies, on TV, in books, and in art, but its identities are as numerous as its roles. The recent conference… More»

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Posted in Exhibitions and Installations, J. Paul Getty Museum, Photographs, Film, and Video

Lyonel Feininger’s Photographic Vision

Moholy's Studio Window around 10 p.m. / Lyonel Feininger

In the 1920s, Lyonel Feininger was one of Germany’s best-known artists. He painted, drew, and made prints; he sketched caricatures and composed music; he even created a miniature city that would presage stop-motion animation. But in 1928, at age 58,… More»

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Posted in Exhibitions and Installations, Paintings, Sculpture and Decorative Arts

It Happened in L.A.: Artists Turn to Zen

Little Big Horn / Peter Voulkos

Artists’ studios aren’t generally thought of as meditative places. The stereotype is one of disarray—an image comes to mind of paintbrushes, sculpting tools, or other instruments of the trade strewn about a room, as if to signal an unruly creative… More»

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Posted in Exhibitions and Installations, J. Paul Getty Museum, Photographs, Film, and Video

Unraveling the Narrative: A Conversation with Photographer Eileen Cowin

Eileen Cowin in her studio, 2011

In the exhibition Narrative Interventions in Photography, opening October 25, contemporary photographers Eileen Cowin, Carrie Mae Weems, and Simryn Gill present works that explore the subjectivity of storytelling and the slipperiness of truth. Cowin’s large, color photographs pair images—including one… More»

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Posted in Exhibitions and Installations, Getty Research Institute

It Happened in L.A.: George Herms Gets Creative for Rent Money

Announcement for “Raffle,” a Tap City Circus raffle in Los Angeles, June 6, 1965. Designed by George Herms

George Herms is known for his poetic assemblages of discarded, disheveled materials. But back in the ’60s, he had preoccupations besides art: he was “tapped out”—that is, broke and ready to tap-dance on street corners for cash—and facing eviction. His… More»

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Posted in Art, Exhibitions and Installations, Getty Research Institute

The First Modern Catalogue of an Art Collection: Q&A with Curator Louis Marchesano

View of a Room at Pommersfelden Palace / Johann Georg Pintz

In the 1700s, the seeds of a new style of presenting works of art—both on the wall and on the page—were planted by a German prince. I talked with Louis Marchesano, curator of prints and drawings at the Getty Research… More»

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Posted in Art, Exhibitions and Installations, J. Paul Getty Museum, Sculpture and Decorative Arts

Clocks and Globes – How Prosperous Parisians in the 18th Century Navigated Their Day (with Bonus Ringtone)

Installation view of Paris: Life & Luxury at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center
Installation view of Paris: Life & Luxury at the Getty Center

Enter Paris: Life & Luxury, closing this Sunday, and you’ll hear chimes pinging through the galleries from extravagant clocks that French aristocrats used to mark time more than two centuries ago. Download (MP3 file, 5 MB) | Length: 5:24 The… More»

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