The Bennett Prize

COMPLETE RULES FOR ENTRY The Bennett Prize: Propelling the Careers of Women Figurative Realist Painters

Call for Entries

Call for entries for 2025 (Round 4) Prize now open (opens April 15, 2024, closes Oct. 4, 2024).

Learn more and enter at cafe website

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 ($50,000 total). 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. A runner up award of $10,000 will be given to one additional finalist. 


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, and who identifies as a woman, regardless of their assigned gender at birth. This includes trans and cis women and nonbinary people. 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.
  • No contestant may be a full- or part-time student at any time during the period from the conclusion of the call for entries on Oct. 4, 2024 through the announcement of the winner on May 15, 2025. The winner of The Prize may not be a full- or part-time student at any time from the conclusion of the call for entries on Oct. 4, 2024 through the opening of her solo Prize exhibition in May 2025. Employment during the period of the grant DOES NOT affect eligibility.
  • 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 are required to participate in the exhibition of finalists, both by the submission and display of their work and attendance at the opening event. Artists must have works available for exhibition from Feb. 7, 2025 through Sept. 2025. Read the FAQs for more information.



Entry is digital, through the CaFÉ website. Search keyword “Bennett.” A free CaFÉ 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 for entry for Round 4 (2025) Prize is 11:59 p.m. MST Oct. 4, 2024.

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. Professional photography of artworks is encouraged but not required.

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. For this purpose, watercolor, gouache, and pastels are considered “paint.” 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 231-720-2575.


Artists will be notified of the jury results by email no later than Nov. 4, 2024.  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. 20, 2024, to maintain their eligibility. If the artworks submitted for jurying are not available then any alternate 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 for exhibition from each of the ten (10) finalists. Finalists will be notified by Jan. 3, 2025, of which paintings to send for exhibition. Artworks for exhibition must arrive at the MMA no later than Feb. 7, 2025 and be available for travel through September 2025.

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. Artworks must be shipped to arrive at the MMA no later Feb. 7, 2025. 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: jmilostan@muskegonartmuseum.or
Phone: 231-720-2575

Entry Fee

The fee for entry is $40. 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

While it is not required, exhibiting artists are strongly encouraged to make all exhibited artworks available for sale. Artists may not place restrictions or special conditions on sales, including on the identity or characteristics of the buyer. 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.


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 catalogue photography of traveling works and share those image files with the artist.


All artworks submitted for exhibition will be insured by MMA while in its possession and during the traveling 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 requires agreement by the artist to all stated conditions.


All artists grant the MMA and The Pittsburgh Foundation the right to photograph and use any work submitted for exhibition for the purpose of the catalogue, publicity, advertising or education. In addition, permission from the artists to reproduce their work in the catalogue is a condition of eligibility.


The MMA will cover travel and lodging expenses of the ten finalists to attend the opening event on May 15, 2025. The opening event includes a public reception, award ceremony and private dinner. The following morning, a  breakfast/meet and greet with finalists and their guests will be held. This will also include MMA docent-led tours, lunch and an afternoon professional development session with museum and gallery professionals and collectors.

The Bennett Prize

The winning artist, after being confirmed for eligibility, will enter into a separate agreement with The Pittsburgh Foundation governing 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 winning artist will also be featured in a solo exhibition at the MMA that will open in May 2025. The solo show will also travel with the exhibition of finalists. A runner up award of $10,000 will be given to one additional finalist.


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