Call for Entries Opens: Third Iteration of $50,000 Bennett Prize for Women Figurative Painters
Pittsburgh, PA, April 18, 2022 - Rising women painters are invited to apply for the third iteration of The Bennett Prize. Its $50,000 grand prize is the largest offered solely to women figurative realist painters.
Atlanta-based artist Ayana Ross won the second Bennett Prize in 2021, following Aneka Ingold, winner of the inaugural Prize in 2019. Ross is currently creating new work for her Bennett Prize solo exhibition, which will be presented across the country next year. The exhibition will first be hosted by the Muskegon Museum of Art (MMA) from May 18 to Sept. 10, 2023.
“The Bennett Prize gave me incredible visibility that has catapulted my career. I’ve sold more artwork—at higher value—than ever before and can really focus as a full-time artist,” Ross said. “I can never thank the Bennetts and this community enough, so I will do what I know best: paint and let my work be my deepest expression of gratitude.”
Endowed by art collectors Steven Alan Bennett and Dr. Elaine Melotti Schmidt at The Pittsburgh Foundation, The Bennett Prize aims to elevate women figurative realist painters—helping them reach their full potential for professional recognition. The winner receives $25,000 each year for two years, so she has time to create her solo show.
“Through our Center for Philanthropy, our Foundation has been involved with The Bennett Prize from its inception. It has been a great privilege to see how this program has elevated the profile of women figurative realist painters by funding their work and creating opportunities for the public to experience their talents and creativity,” said Lisa Schroeder, Pittsburgh Foundation president and CEO. “Thanks to the Bennetts, these extraordinary artists have burst onto the national stage, and are being collected and sought after as never before.”
The Prize helps level the playing field for women artists. Works by women artists are collected and shown less frequently by galleries and museums and, when they are purchased, the prices paid are typically far less than those paid to artists who are men.
From the first two iterations of The Bennett Prize, the 18 finalists and 2 winners have seen up to a 45% increase in prices they are able to command for their work, more than 100 paintings sold, eight gallery representations, 19 solo shows and 46 group shows. Through The Bennett Prize, these 20 women artists have been featured in more than 30 published stories, 250 advertisements and in 2,500 social media posts.
“With the call for entries for the third iteration of The Bennett Prize now open, we anticipate extraordinary new work from women figurative realist painters,” Steven Alan Bennett said. “We never cease to be amazed at the exceptional vision and high level of execution from talented women across the United States, and we anxiously await the chance to review this exciting new work.”
The Bennett Prize is awarded by a four-member jury. This year’s jurors include world-renowned artists Julie Bell and Zoey Frank; Joseph Rosa, CEO and director of the Frye Art Museum in Seattle, Washington; and Bennett, co-founder of The Prize. The jury will select 10 painters from among the entrants and from those 10, one winner and one runner up.
“Pablo Picasso said that ‘Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.’ Steve and I have every confidence that this third round of finalists will produce a downpour that will freshen the souls of every viewer,” said Dr. Elaine Melotti Schmidt. “Women create incredible art.”
The Prize is not open to hobbyists or students, or to artists whose work has been sold for $25,000 or more, or who have received an award, prize or other recognition for their art in that amount.