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October 16, 2020

Rising Voices: The Bennett Prize for Women Figurative Realist Painters

  • Organization: The Pittsburgh Foundation
  • Submission Deadline: October 16, 2020
  • Event Dates: May 27, 2021 - September 5, 2021
  • Entry Fee: $25
  • Award Info: $25,000 annually over two consecutive years to the winning artist
  • Type: Competition
  • Eligibility: National
  • Categories: Painting

Rising Voices: The Bennett Prize for Women Figurative Realists

Exhibition Dates: May 27 – September 5, 2021 (with additional travel)

Call for Entries: April 16, 2020 through October 16, 2020

About the Prize: The Bennett Prize is a stipend/grant-in-aid program established by American art collectors Steven Alan Bennett and Dr. Elaine Melotti Schmidt to support the fine art practice of a woman painter working in figurative realism. The Bennett Prize, administered by The Pittsburgh Foundation, is awarded biennially and provides $25,000 annually over two consecutive years to the winning artist. Ten (10) finalists will be selected to participate in a traveling exhibition organized by the Muskegon Museum of Art (MMA) and the winner will be showcased in a solo exhibition at the close of her grant. The opening exhibition will be held from May 27 to September 5, 2021 at the Muskegon Museum of Art before traveling to additional venues.

Eligibility: The Bennett Prize is open only to women eighteen (18) years or older residing at least part time in the United States (50 States and Washington, D.C.) whose primary practice is the creation of original paintings in the genre of figurative realism. Part time residence must include an active studio practice in the U.S. (On-site studio visits are a required component of The Prize.) U.S. Citizenship is not required. Artists must be currently pursuing, or hope to pursue, a career as a full-time painter. Artists who will be full time or part time students while receiving the proceeds of the Prize are NOT eligible. Employment during the period of the grant DOES NOT affect eligibility. The Bennett Prize is intended to support early and mid-career artists. Artists who have received a prior award or grant of $25,000 or more, or sold any single work of art for $25,000 or more, are NOT eligible. To be considered for The Bennett Prize, artists must participate in the exhibition of finalists. Artists must have works available for exhibition and travel from February 7, 2021 through at least the end of 2023. For additional information see the F.A.Q. at

PLEASE READ ALL OF THE RULES AND TERMS BEFORE APPLYING. No refunds will be given for ineligible or disqualified entries, so read all terms. SUBMIT IMAGES AND ONE DETAIL FOR NO FEWER THAN THREE (3) AND NO MORE THAN FIVE (5) PAINTINGS.

Entry: Entry is digital, through the (CaFÉ) website. Search keyword “Bennett.” Free registration is required. Artists should submit a minimum of three (3) and no more than five (5) artworks and one detail, for a total of four (4) to six (6) images.

Deadline: Deadline for entry is 11:59PM MST October 16, 2020

Number of Entries: Each artist may submit up to five (5) paintings for consideration by jurors. All entrants must also include one (1) detail image that demonstrates their craft and technique. Entries that do not include a minimum of three (3) pieces and one (1) detail will not be considered.

Digital Entry: Digital image files must conform to the requirements as listed on the CaFÉ site. Be sure to supply the title, media, and dimensions of your entries. Incomplete entries will not be juried.

Eligible Entries: Paintings must depict representational images of one or more figures of any gender. Figures may be clothed or nude and do not need to be photorealistic. All entries must be traditional paintings, which is defined as paint upon a two-dimensional surface. Mixed media pieces will be considered as long as paint is the primary material. Paintings rendered over the top of photographic images are NOT eligible. Only original works completed in the past five (5) years are eligible for consideration. Works submitted for the jury process do NOT need to be available for exhibition but should be representative of the paintings the artist would provide if selected as a finalist.
Questions? Please call the MMA at 231-720-2575.

Notification: Artists will be notified of the jury results by email no later than November 16, 2020.

Acceptance: Accepted artists must provide images and details for a minimum of four (4) paintings available for exhibition no later than December 11, 2020 to maintain their eligibility. If the artworks submitted for jurying are not available works submitted for exhibition must be representative of the juried pieces. Available paintings that deviate substantially in quality or theme from the juried works will not be considered and the accepted finalist will be disqualified and replaced with an alternate. To be considered for exhibition paintings must meet the criteria established in these rules. Depending on scale, two (2) or more paintings will be selected from each of the ten (10) finalists. Finalists will be notified by December 31, 2020 of which paintings to send for exhibition. Artworks for exhibition must arrive at the MMA no later than February 7, 2020 and be available for travel through 2023.

Exhibition Criteria: Paintings must be fully dry and suitable for travel to multiple venues. Ideally paintings will be framed, though this is not required. All works must hang using wires, cleats, or D-rings. Works on paper must be framed and glazed. In the event you are selected as a finalist, MMA staff will coordinate with you on preparation for display and travel as necessary.

Delivery: The Muskegon Museum of Art will cover packing and shipping costs to and from the artist. Artworks must be shipped to arrive at the MMA no later February 7, 2021. MMA staff will coordinate with the ten (10) finalists on shipping arrangements. Art will be sent to:

Attn: Bennett Prize
Muskegon Museum of Art
296 W Webster Ave, Muskegon, MI 49440
Phone: 231-720-2575

Entry Fee: Due to the economic hardships created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the fee for entry has been reduced to $25. Refunds cannot be provided after entry. No refunds will be given for ineligible or disqualified entries so read all terms carefully before applying.

Art Sales: All accepted work is eligible for sale through the MMA Store. The MMA commission is 40% and must be included in the purchase price. Work offered for sale will be sold as exhibited and delivered to the purchaser by the MMA at the close of the traveling exhibition. It is the responsibility of the artist to resolve any issues as relates to gallery or agent representation if they choose to have the work(s) for sale.

Catalogue: The Pittsburgh Foundation and MMA will publish a full color catalogue in conjunction with the exhibition featuring the artwork of the ten (10) finalists. Artists are required to submit biographical materials and an artist statement for inclusion. The MMA will handle all photography.

Insurance: All artworks submitted for exhibition will be insured by MMA while in its possession and during the travel of the exhibition. Artists must submit insurance values upon delivery of the art to the MMA. Artists are responsible for insurance during transport to and from MMA at the opening and close of the exhibition; the MMA WILL NOT insure works while in the possession of the artist or commercial carriers on their behalf.

Liability: Participating artists will be required to sign a loan agreement with the MMA. Submitting a work of art to this exhibition implies agreement on the part of the artist with all stated conditions.

Publicity: The MMA and The Pittsburgh Foundation assume the privilege of photographing or using any work submitted for consideration for the purpose of the catalogue, publicity, or education. In addition, permission to reproduce in the catalogue is a condition of eligibility.

Travel: The MMA will cover travel and lodging expenses for the ten finalists to attend the opening event on May 27, 2021. The event includes a reception, award ceremony, and private dinner.

The Bennett Prize: The winning artist, after being confirmed for eligibility, will enter into a separate agreement with The Pittsburgh Foundation to govern the two (2) years over which the proceeds of the Prize will be paid. In addition to the $50,000 over two (2) years, the artist will also be featured in a solo exhibition at MMA. The solo show will also travel with the exhibition of finalists.

Jurors: A panel of four jurors will adjudicate The Bennett Prize from the submitted entries.

Steven Bennett: Steven Alan Bennett established The Bennett Collection of Women Realists in 2009. The Collection is limited to figurative realist paintings of women by women artists and includes work by some of the most exciting women painters currently working: Margaret Bowland, Aleah Chapin, Andrea Kowch, Alyssa Monks, Katie O’Hagan, Pamela Wilson and dozens of others on the cutting edge of figurative realism. Bennett bases the Collection on two similar but different beliefs. First, while women painters have produced remarkable work for centuries, they have not received the same degree of acceptance as their male counterparts. Second, in addition to gender discrimination, figurative realism is disfavored in many art schools, universities and galleries, which have ignored or repudiated the realistic depiction of persons or figures. Thus, Bennett has limited the Collection to women figurative realists to celebrate the fabulous work that these women are creating. In 2013, Bennett and his spouse and co-curator Dr. Elaine Melotti Schmidt began discussing the creation of an art prize that would enable them to address discrimination against women painters and support and promote figurative realism. Over a period of several years, the Bennetts refined this idea, ultimately endowing The Bennett Prize Fund at The Pittsburgh Foundation. The goal of the Prize is to celebrate and honor women figurative realists by encouraging their work and helping to launch or propel their careers as fine art painters. Bennett has a BA in Art History from the University of Notre Dam...

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