The Bennett Prize: Propelling the Careers of Women Figurative Realist Painters

The Bennett Prize, a program of The Pittsburgh Foundation

The Bennett Prize: Propelling the Careers of Women Figurative Realist Painters

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Call for entries open from April 16 to Oct. 16, 2020.

Exhibition Dates

May 20 to Sept. 5, 2021

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 is intended to support early and mid-career artists. Administered by The Pittsburgh Foundation, The Prize 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. The opening exhibition will be held from May 20 to Sept. 5, 2021 at the Muskegon Museum of Art before traveling to additional venues. 


The Bennett Prize is open only to living women artists who:
  • Are eighteen (18) years or older.
  • Reside 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. Students who expect to complete their degrees prior to the awarding of The Prize are welcome to apply.
  • Employment during the period of the grant DOES NOT affect eligibility.
Those who are NOT eligible for The Bennett Prize include:
  •  Artists who will be full-time or part-time students while receiving the proceeds of The Prize.
  • Artists who have received a prior award of $25,000 or more or sold any single work of art for $25,000 or more.
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 Feb. 7, 2021 through at least the end of 2023. For additional information, see the entry F.A.Q. section of this website. 


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


The deadline for entry is Oct. 16, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. (MST).

Number of Entries

Each artist must submit at least three (3) and as many as five (5) paintings for consideration by jurors. In addition, all entrants must also include one (1) detail image that demonstrates her 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 website. Be sure to supply the title, media and dimensions of your entries. Incomplete entries will not be reviewed by the jury.

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.


Please read the Entry FAQs and then call the Muskegon Museum of Art at 231-720-2582.


Artists will be notified of the jury results by email no later than Nov. 16, 2020. Note: public announcement of the finalists will occur later.


Accepted artists must provide images and details for a minimum of four (4) paintings available for exhibition no later than Dec. 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 Dec. 31, 2020 of which paintings to send for exhibition. Artworks for exhibition must arrive at the MMA no later than Feb. 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.


The Muskegon Museum of Art will cover packing and shipping costs to and from the artist. This is a change from last year, when artists were awarded a $1,000 stipend to cover expenses. Artworks must be shipped to arrive at the MMA no later Feb. 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
Email: [email protected]g
Phone: 231-720-2575

Entry Fee

In recognition of the extraordinary circumstances created by 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 reduce the fee for entry. For 2021, the fee has been reduced by half, to $25.
Artists who responded to the survey at the conclusion of the last competition may still use their discount code. (There is a small change based on system limitations, please remove the “!” when entering the provided code. If you have any problems, please contact Art Martin at [email protected].)

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 artists to resolve any issues as relates to gallery or agent representation if they choose to have the work(s) for sale. 


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.


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.


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.


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. 


The MMA will cover travel and lodging expenses for the ten (10) finalists to attend the opening event on May 20, 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 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.


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