Call Detail
Rising Voices: The Bennett Prize for Women Figurative Realists
Muskegon Museum of Art
296 W Webster Ave
Muskegon, MI 49440

Contact Email:
Call Type: Competitions
Eligibility: National
State: Michigan
Entry Deadline: 9/28/18
Application Closed
Images - Minimum: 4, Maximum: 6
Total Media - Minimum: 4, Maximum: 6
Entry Fee (Entry Fee): $50.00

Rising Voices: The Bennett Prize for Women Figurative Realists

Exhibition Dates: May 2 – September 8, 2019

Call for Entries: April 13, 2018 through September 28, 2018

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), and the winner will be showcased in a solo exhibition at the close of her grant. The opening exhibition will be held from May 2 to September 8, 2019.

Eligibility: The Bennett Prize is open only to women eighteen (18) years or older residing at least part in the United States, whose primary practice is the creation of original paintings in the genre of figurative realism. Artists must be currently pursuing, or intend 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. Artists who have received a prior award or grant in excess of $25,000, 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 1, 2019 through at least the end of 2021.

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 September 28, 2018

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: 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.

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, 2018.

Acceptance: Accepted artists (the ten finalists) must provide images and details for a minimum of four (4) paintings available for exhibition no later than December 7, 2018 to maintain their eligibility. Artworks must arrive at the MMA no later than February 1, 2019, and be available for travel through 2021. Artworks submitted for exhibition must be shipped from and returned to an address within the United States. Depending on scale, two (2) or more paintings will be selected from each of the ten (10) finalists. Finalists will be notified by December 28, 2018 of which paintings to send for exhibition. 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.

Exhibition Criteria: Paintings or multi-panel pieces 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. Work requiring special handling or installation will be accepted only at the MMA’s discretion. Unsuitably prepared, hazardous, unstable, or extremely fragile works will be declined. If you are unsure about your work conforming to these conditions, please email Art Martin at before submitting.

Delivery: Finalists will receive a $1,000 stipend to assist with shipping and travel. Artwork must arrive at the MMA by February 1, 2019. All incoming and outgoing packing and shipping costs are the responsibility of the artist. Ship or hand-deliver to:

Attn: Art Martin
Muskegon Museum of Art, 296 W Webster Ave, Muskegon, MI 49440
Email:    Phone: 231-720-2582

Entry Fee: The fee for entry is $50. 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 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 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 assumes 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 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 agreement between the winning artist and The Pittsburgh Foundation will contain a requirement that all work created by the winning artist during the two (2) years must be in the United States and available for exhibition at the conclusion of The Prize period.

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

Andrea Kowch: Andrea Kowch’s paintings are real and magical narratives that provoke dreamlike musings. Past and present intersect, merging references in equal measure to Renaissance and Baroque painting, Depression-era photography, antique fabrics and lace, vintage clothing, and the rural farmlands and interiors of the artist’s native Michigan. Silent figures, always female and often nearly identical in countenance, move through finely detailed settings in seeming slow motion, their actions both familiar and unexplained. A winner of numerous regional, national, and international honors for her art, Andrea Kowch has had work exhibited in such places as Washington D.C.’s Capitol Hill and Corcoran Gallery of Art, New York City’s Diane von Furstenberg Gallery, and Miami’s Margulies Collection, all before the age of twenty. She is also a 2005 award winner and alumnus of the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. Today, she paints and illustrates books, and has been featured in various publications and art annuals, including CMYK, American Art Collector, Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, and Newsday. Her works hang in public, museum, and private collections. Visit her site at

Maria Tomasula: Maria Tomasula is an artist and professor of art at the University of Notre Dame. Her paintings are vibrant and luminous, meticulously painted at a level so exacting that the hand of the artist is nearly invisible. Flowers, fruit, meat, insects, and other natural objects are portrayed within shallow spaces reminiscent of centuries of Christian and Mexican/Spanish-colonial devotional imagery. These still life arrangements, with their visceral references to martyrdom, sainthood, and fetishism, become metaphors for human spirituality. Her paintings have been exhibited in many venues, including Forum Gallery, New York; Forum Gallery, Los Angeles; Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, Chicago; The National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago; Taller Boricua, New York; The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Connecticut; Illinois State Museum, Springfield; Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art & Design, Kansas City; Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, New York; and numerous others.  Her work has been written about in publications such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, ARTnews, and the Chicago Tribune. (You can find examples of her work at and

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 Dame and pursued a fine arts degree at the University of Kansas.

Art Martin: Art Martin is the Director of Collections and Exhibitions at the Muskegon Museum of Art. In this role, Martin has organized numerous exhibitions featuring the artworks of contemporary national and international artists, several of which have traveled.  Recent exhibitions include Innovators and Legends: Generations in Textiles and Fibers (with curator Geary Jones); Circular Abstractions: Bull’s Eye Quilts (with curator Nancy Crow); Sarah Wagner: Vegetable Lamb of America; Southern Roots: The Paintings of Winfred Rembert; Expressions of Faith; and Shift: The Glass of Daniel Clayman. Martin has served as juror for the international exhibitions Quilt National and Excellence in Fibers, and is a practicing artist, with a BFA in Painting and Drawing from Drake University and a MFA in Painting from Wichita State University.
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