MUSKEGON, Michigan, June 10, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Two of the nation’s leading collectors of figurative realist paintings have donated $12 million in artwork and cash to help create a new wing at the Muskegon Museum of Art (MMA), where they permanently dedicate a space to women’s works of art. Fewer than five museums in the world devote space solely to the work of women artists.
More than 150 paintings by women artists have been donated to the Michigan Museum by art collectors and gender equality champions Steven Alan Bennett and Dr. Elaine Melotti Schmidt of San Antonio. Their donation also includes a cash donation of $1.5 million, which will help create a new wing to more than double the size of the museum.
Bennett and Schmidt have been collecting figurative realist paintings by women artists since 2009, creating The Bennett Collection, and in 2018 established The Bennett Prize, a biennial $50,000 prize designed to propel the careers of women painters who have yet to obtained full professional recognition. This is the largest art prize offered only to female painters. The award is currently in its third cycle and the call for applications for the third cycle is open until October 7, 2022.
Over the past decade, just 11% of artwork acquired by the nation’s top museums for their permanent collections was by women, according to a survey by art market website ArtNet in 2019. Of 260,470 works acquired by 26 of the best museums in the United States, less than 15% were by women artists.
The paintings donated by the Bennett Collection include works by more than 115 artists, including Artemisia Gentileschi, Mary Cassatt, Agnes Martin, Elaine de Kooning, Harmonia Rosales, Julie Bell, Andrea Kowch, Katie O’Hagan and many other contemporary women and figurative realistic historical. painters.
“This is a transformative and once-in-a-lifetime gift,” said MMA executive director Kirk Hallman. “In the context of an expansion project, it is all the more redefining. Steven and Elaine’s vision is shared by MMA. The Bennett-Schmidt gift is an institutional call to action, encouraging the both the Muskegon Museum of Art and other museums to continually expand opportunities for women artists.”
“The works of art donated to the Muskegon Museum of Art catapult them to the forefront of progressive museums that recognize the primacy and power of the work of women painters,” Bennett said. “What has been an exceptionally good collection will now be complemented by many powerful works by women who span generations.”
The Bennett Collection: https://www.thebennettartcollection.com
Muskegon Art Museum: https://muskegonartmuseum.org
Press contact: Amanda Rogalski, [email protected]
Image 1: “Portrait of collectors, Dr Elaine Melotti Schmidt and Steven Alan Bennett”
Katie O’Hagan (born in 1972), “Portrait of the collectors, Dr. Elaine Melotti Schmidt and Steven Alan Bennett” oil on canvas, 78″ x 58″ 2016
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“Portrait of collectors, Dr. Elaine Melotti Schmidt and Steven Alan Bennett”