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Published: August 20, 2020

UT's Scarfone/Hartley Gallery Presents Rising Voices: The Bennett Prize for Women Figurative Realist Painters Aug. 28 – Nov. 8

The University of Tampa’s Scarfone/Hartley Gallery is pleased to announce the exhibition of Rising Voices: The Bennett Prize for Women Figurative Realist Painters, which will open on Aug. 28.          

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Aneka Ingold, a part-time faculty member who teaches art and design, was announced as the $50,000 winner of The Bennett Prize. Photo courtesy of Ingold of the mixed media piece on vinyl, “Aberration.”

Organized by the Muskegon Museum of Art and The Pittsburgh Foundation, The Bennett Prize is a celebration of women’s voices and the enduring power of the figure in the visual arts. A stipend/grant-in-aid award founded by art collectors Steven Bennett and Elaine Melotti Schmidt, the $50,000 Bennett Prize is given biennially to a woman painter whose principal focus is figurative painting in a realistic style. Rising Voices: The Bennett Prize for Women Figurative Realist Painters features the paintings of the 10, 2019 finalists — including the winner, Aneka Ingold.

The 10 finalists were selected from among 647 entrants across the U.S. A four-member jury, which included renowned realist painters Maria Tomasula and Andrea Kowch, selected the finalists. “The response has been incredible — exceeding our best hopes — and the paintings submitted for consideration were stunning,” said Art Martin, a juror and director of collections and exhibitions at the Muskegon Museum of Art, where the finalists’ works premiered on May 2, 2019.

Aneka Ingold, a part-time faculty member who teaches art and design, was announced as the $50,000 winner. She will receive $25,000 annually for two years to allow her to devote the time necessary to mount a solo exhibition of figurative realist paintings, which will open at the Muskegon Museum of Art in 2021 and then travel the country. The other nine finalists featured in this exhibition include: Dorielle Cailiegh, Jennifer Campbell, Kira Nam Greene, Mary Henderson, Stefanie Jackson, Daniela Kovacic, Rebecca Leveille, Jenny Morgan and Carrie Pearce.

The Bennett Prize spotlights women artists who are or seek to become full-time painters, but have not yet reached full professional recognition. The prize is also designed to allow the public to learn more about the creative vision of talented women painters working in the increasingly popular style of figurative realism.

“More people should be seeing the important figurative realist paintings that women are creating. These painters have much to say at a time when we’re struggling to understand human differences, including gender and race,” said Bennett.

Bennett and Schmidt, of San Antonio, TX, endowed a $3 million fund at The Pittsburgh Foundation to ensure that the prize will be awarded every two years in perpetuity.

The Bennetts collaborated with The Pittsburgh Foundation in part because of its experience funding local artists and artists of color through its Investing in Professional Arts and Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh grant-making programs, which the Foundation runs in collaboration with The Heinz Endowments, also based in Pittsburgh.

Maxwell King, president and CEO of The Pittsburgh Foundation, acknowledged the crucial role of the prize in elevating the work of women painters. “The Bennetts recognize the need to encourage more women to take their rightful place in the art world. Their vision and partnership with The Pittsburgh Foundation exemplify the very best ways in which community foundations help donors develop and implement life-changing ideas,” King said.

Schmidt and Bennett are among the country’s top collectors of figurative realist art and are committed to seeing that talented women painters receive long-overdue recognition.

“There should be as many paintings by women as men in museums, commanding the same prices and critical esteem,” Schmidt said. “Our goal is to help make that happen.”

“The gallery is honored to be apart of this mission and feature Rising Voices: The Bennett Prize for Women Figurative Realist Painters here at UT,” said Jocelyn Boigenzahn, director of UT`s Scarfone/Hartley Gallery. “We are especially proud to bring this show here to honor UT’s own Aneka Ingold, the inaugural winner of the Bennett Prize in 2019.”

The exhibition is presented in the Scarfone/Hartley Gallery thanks to the incredible support of the Friends of the Gallery.                       

The opening reception for this exhibition will be hybrid physical/virtual on Aug. 28, 6-8 p.m. The opening reception for this exhibition will be hybrid physical/virtual on Aug. 28, 6-8 p.m. Please  register to attend the opening. On-site, physical attendance will be limited to UT students, faculty, staff and Friends of the Gallery patrons.

The gallery is located on campus in the R.K. Bailey Art Studios at 310 North Blvd. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday to Friday, and 1-4 p.m. on Saturday. There is no charge for admission.

For more information, contact Boigenzahn at jboigenzahn@ut.edu or (813) 253-6217.

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