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The Bennett Prize Seeks Applicants

Posted by The Pittsburgh Foundation ; Posted on 
Funding / Grants; Visual - DEADLINE :  
The Bennett Prize Seeks Applicants



The Bennett Prize, created in 2018, awards $50,000 to a woman artist to create her own solo exhibition of figurative realist paintings, which will travel the country. The prize winner will be identified from a group of finalists whose work is exhibited at the Muskegon Museum of Art from May-September, 2021. Finalists will be compensated to participate in the exhibition.

Application Fee: $25

In recognition of the extraordinary circumstances we are facing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic hardship, The Pittsburgh Foundation, Muskegon Museum of Art, and Prize founders Dr. Elaine Melotti Schmidt and Steven Alan Bennett have made the decision to dramatically reduce the fee for entry. For 2021, the fee has been reduced by half, to $25.

Eligibility: Professional woman painters over 18, living in the United States and working in a figurative realist style (see additional eligibility requirements below)
Deadline: 10/16/2020

Review the full prize prospectus and all conditions here.

Project Description

The Bennett Prize will propel the careers of women painters who have not yet realized full professional recognition, empowering new artists and those who have painted for many years. The Prize will expand opportunities for the public, who may not be familiar with figurative realist painting, to learn more about the creative vision of talented women painters in this increasingly popular genre. The Prize may be awarded to the same individual only once.

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 each receive $1,000 to participate in a traveling exhibition organized by the Muskegon Museum of Art (MMA) in Michigan, and the winner will be showcased in a solo exhibition at the close of her grant. 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 early 2021 through at least the end of 2023.

Artist Responsibilities

The Bennett Prize winner makes the following commitments in writing:

  • To pursue figurative realist painting on a full-time basis during the Residency (the winner may pursue non-art, part-time work).
  • To produce at least five completed paintings annually during the Residency, unless an exception is made by The Prize Committee. The largest dimension of submitted work for the exhibition cannot exceed 72 inches.
  • To use the proceeds of The Prize for lawful expenses only.
  • To pay all taxes attributable to The Prize, if any.
  • To permit The Pittsburgh Foundation, The Prize Committee or any representative designated by the Foundation to visit the winner’s studio from time to time to evaluate progress.
  • To permit The Pittsburgh Foundation, Muskegon Museum of Art or their designees to document production of the work in progress, to photograph the installation and individual works for educational and publicity purposes related to The Prize and the Residency, and to use these images and details of these images in educational and marketing materials as well as in exhibition catalogs for current and subsequent Bennett Prize exhibitions and rounds.
  • To consider a gift or loan of one or two of the works created during the Residency to a public arts institution, or an institution offering arts education.
  • To enter into a loan agreement for work created during the Residency so this work may be included in the subsequent Residency exhibition, and consent to and cooperate in the publication of a catalog showing this work without the expectation of additional payment or publications rights fees.

The winner may sell works before the Residency or related residency exhibitions are completed, but the winner must condition any sale upon the requirement that the work be made available by the purchaser for the residency exhibition and any subsequent traveling shows without additional rights or royalty fees to the artist or the owners of the works.

The Bennett Prize is open to qualified painters only. The term “qualified” painter describes a person who meets all of the following criteria:

  • Is a living woman and a fine art painter who applies paint to a generally two-dimensional surface (this does not include drawings made with pencil or crayon charcoal, photography, sculpture, installation video or performance art). Please note: No painting over digital printing will be accepted.
  • Is a figurative realist painter who paints in the style in which the realistically depicted human figure, or figures, is central to the work.
  • Is pursuing a career as a full-time professional painter. Hobbyists or serious amateurs not intending to work full-time as painters are not eligible.
  • Is a painter who has not yet received significant professional recognition- meaning the artist has not sold any single work of art for, nor has received an art prize or award, in an amount exceeding $25,000.

Those who are NOT eligible for The Bennett Prize are:

  • Artists who will be students during The Prize period (2021-2023) are ineligible. Students who expect to complete their degrees prior to the awarding of The Prize are welcome to apply.
  • Artists who have received a prior award of $25,000 or more or sold any single work of art for $25,000 or more.


  • April 16, 2020: Call for entry launches.
  • Oct. 16, 2020: Call for entries closes at 11:59 p.m. (MST).
  • Nov. 30, 2020: Announcement of 2021 finalists.
  • May 20, 2021: 2021 Prize winner announced at exhibition opening reception in Muskegon, MI.
  • May 20, 2021 to Sept. 5, 2021: Exhibition at Muskegon Museum of Art.

All accepted work is eligible for sale. The commission is 40 percent, and must be included in the purchase price. Work offered for sale will be sold as exhibited, and delivered to the purchaser by the museum at the close of the exhibition period. It is the responsibility of the artist to resolve any issues as relates to gallery or agent representation if they choose to have their work(s) for sale.

The Pittsburgh Foundation 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 museum will handle all photography.

What to Submit

Artists should submit no fewer than three (3) and no more than five (5) artworks and one detail, for a total of four (4) to six (6) images. Entries that do not include a minimum of three (3) pieces and one (1) detail will not be considered. Be sure to supply the title, media and dimensions of your entries. Incomplete entries will not be reviewed by the jury. The submitted paintings need NOT be the paintings intended for the exhibition!

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 must depict representational images of one or more figures. Paintings rendered over the top of photographic images are NOT eligible. Only original works completed in the past five (5) years are eligible.

If accepted into the exhibition, artists must provide images and details for a minimum of four (4) available paintings 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.

Paintings or multi-panel pieces intended for the exhibition cannot exceed 6 feet wide by 6 feet high when installed. All hanging works should be framed and fitted with wire, D-Rings or a cleat. Entries must be dry, completely assembled, framed, matted or mounted. All works on paper must be framed and glazed.

Review entry FAQs here.

How to Submit

Entry is digital, through the CaFÉ website.  Free registration for the CaFÉ website is required.

QUESTIONS? Contact 412-391-5122 or email


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