Prestigious Local Awards -

Prestigious Local Awards

An artist who submits work for consideration for an award is demonstrating a strong dedication to her career as an artist.  As in any specialized field, awards draw attention, and open doors on a national and international level.  Artists who win these awards have a track record of going on to receive gallery representation in international art market cities, where their work continues to mature and may go up in value as their careers progress.

Artadia Award

Artadia offers substantial financial support, critical validation and exposure for artists through their annual award program. Awards ranging from $1,500 to $15,000 are given to artists in cities selected for their commitment to contemporary art and presence of exemplary art programs in their communities. 15 finalists are selected through a preliminary panel of prominent national and local curators and artists. A second panel of non-local curators and artists then travel to the selected city and and conduct studio visits with each of the finalists before choosing the artists who will receive Artadia Awards.  Artadia was founded as ArtCouncil in 1997 by investment banker and art collector Christopher E. Vroom in response to the demise of the National Endowment for the Arts’ artist fellowships, Artadia is a non-profit organization.

de Young Artist-in-Residence

The de Young’s Artist Studio in the Kimball Education Gallery is a residency program for emerging artists and community-based arts groups that allows visitors a chance to explore a working studio environment.

Every month the museum invites artists to install and demonstrate their art form at the de Young. This interactive program enables visitors to meet artists and gives the artists an opportunity to work with the public. Artists working in various media are encouraged to apply. For detailed information about artists in the galleries call 415.750.7634 or send an e-mail to

The Artist Studio program is supported by the Fleishhacker Foundation.  The Artist Studio program is a part of FAMSF’s Cultural Encounters initiative designed to attract new and diverse audiences to the Museums. Cultural Encounters is generously funded by The James Irvine Foundation, The Wallace Foundation, the Institute of Museums and Library Services, the Columbia Foundation, and the Winifred Johnson Clive Foundation.

Eureka Fellowship

The Fleishhacker Foundation’s Eureka Fellowship offers an unrestricted fellowship program for visual artists. Artists must be nominated by a local nonprofit arts organization to qualify. Awards of $25,000 per artist are determined by a review panel of non-Bay Area arts experts. The Mortimer Fleishhacker Foundation was founded in 1947 by Mortimer Fleishhacker, a banker and businessman who was active in many non-profit and educational institutions in the San Francisco Bay Area. He had been a founder of the Community Chest (forerunner of the United Way) and was for many years a Trustee of the University of California. Most of the grants given by the Fleishhacker Foundation in the early days were in the art or music fields to such organizations as the San Francisco Symphony and the San Francisco Opera. Mortimer Fleishhacker Jr, Cyril Magnin and Ben Swig also established the American Conservatory Theater Foundation which brought ACT to the City.

Headlands Center for the Arts

Artist in Residence Program
Headlands provides emerging, mid-career and established artists time and space for open-ended investigation, experimentation and collaboration-free from the usual imperative to create finished artistic “product”. Artists’ residencies and public programs create opportunities for reflection, dialogue and exchange that build understanding and appreciation for the role of art in society. Artists are selected through a highly competitive peer review process to participate in the unique residency programs. Although artists’ residencies are not measurable by typical standards, Headlands alums have been known to receive MacArthur “Genius” grants, Fulbright, Guggenheim and NEA fellowships. Headlands’ alumnae work is widely published and performed, featured in national and international collections, and frequently represented in prestigious exhibitions such as the Whitney Biennial and international venues such as the Venice Biennale.

Tournesol Award
The Tournesol Award recognizes one emerging painter each year providing support in taking the first major steps towards establishing their career in the Bay Area.  The award provides an artist with the financial and community support to assist his/her artistic development in the critical first years after school. By supporting local artists at an early stage in their careers, Headlands hopes to contribute to the vitality of the Bay Area’s artistic community. The Tournesol Award is designed to support a full-year of artistic work and development to artists who have earned their MFA and whose primary media is painting and drawing. The award provides the chosen artist with a $10,000 cash stipend and a studio (live-out) residency for one year at Headlands Center for the Arts. A solo exhibition at a Bay Area venue will show work created at the end of this period.

Affiliate Artist Program
Headlands rents day studio space at subsidized rates to Bay Area artists and arts professionals in multiple disciplines-visual, literary, performance, interdisciplinary, film and video-for terms up to two years.

Jay DeFeo Prize

Awarded annually by Mills College to a graduating MFA student in the art department, the Jay DeFeo Prize provides a launching pad for beginning artists. The funds for this endowed prize were stipulated in the will of the artist Jay DeFeo (American, 1929-1989), who was a professor of painting at Mills College from 1981 until her death. The winner is selected from the exhibiting artists in the MFA exhibition at the Mills College Art Museum. Located in Oakland, Mills College is a liberal arts college that offers bachelors degrees to women and graduate degrees and certificates to both women and men.

John D. Phelan Art Awards in Photography, Printmaking, Film, Video and Digital Media

The James D. Phelan Art Awards were established by the trust of James D. Phelan (1861-1930), former San Francisco Mayor, United States Senator, and arts supporter, to recognize the achievements of California-born artists in a variety of disciplines. The San Francisco Foundation sponsors the annual competitions to recognize the achievements of California-born artists in four different disciplines: film, photography, printmaking, and video. Awards are made in film and video in even-numbered years and in photography and printmaking in odd-numbered years.

Eligibility: Winning applicants will be asked to provide copies of their birth certificates. There are no age restrictions for these awards. Up to six awards ($2,500 to $7,500) are made each year. The competitions are administered in partnership with four community-based arts organizations and are only open to California-born artists.

James D. Phelan Art Award in Photography
The Phelan Award in Photography is administered by SF Camerawork. Two artists will recieve $3,750 each and be invited to participate in a group exhibition at SF Camerawork.

NEXT APPLICATION DEADLINE: The Phelan Award in Photography is awarded in odd-numbered years.

James D. Phelan Art Award in Printmaking
The Phelan Award in Printmaking is administered by The Kala Art Institute. Two artists will receive $5,000 each and be invited to participate in a group exhibition in the Kala Art Institute’s gallery.

James D. Phelan Award in Film, Video, and Digital Media
In partnership with the Bay Area Video Coalition and the Film Arts Foundation, SFF awards one $10,000 prize and two $5,000 prizes.  The Phelan Awards are given to California-born media artists whose body of work merits recognition for its creativity, innovation, and contribution to the fields of film, video, and digital media. Eligible platforms include film, analog and digital time-based video, installation work, web, interactive and mobile media, and hybrid projects.

John Gutman Photography Fellowship

This annual award is administered by the San Francisco Foundation.  Established by the internationally recognized photographer, John Gutmann (1905-1998), the John Gutmann Photography Fellowship awards $5,000 to $10,000 annually to an emerging artist who exhibits professional accomplishment, serious artistic commitment, and need in the field of creative photography.

The Gutmann award is determined by nomination only, and nominees are selected by jurors who were appointed by John Gutmann. For more information on John Gutmann, the award, and the jurors, visit

Murphy & Cadogan Fellowship

The Murphy & Cadogan Fellowships in the Fine Arts are annual awards sponsored by The San Francisco Foundation to assist art students in funding their final year of graduate studies. The Jack and Gertrude Murphy Fellowships in the Fine Arts and the Edwin Anthony and Adelaine Bourdeaux Cadogan Fellowships in the Fine Arts are multiple awards of $3,500 available to Bay Area fine arts MFA students to underwrite tuition for continued academic study.  Work is judged by a panel of art professionals.

Root Division’s Introductions

Root Division presents a chance for Bay Area artists to showcase their work in an annual exhibition called “Introductions.” The purpose of this exhibition is to showcase exemplary new and emerging work made by artists living and working in the Bay Area. Qualified artists must be living and/or working in the SF Bay Area; must have their work submitted for review for the decided exhibition dates; and cannot have existing gallery representation. The judges panel varies each year, drawing from the arts community.  Root Division is a non-profit founded in 2002 for the support of art and art education in the Bay Area.


The SECA Art Award is administered by SECA (Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art), a San Francisco Museum of Modern Art auxiliary.  The biennial award honors local artists of exceptional promise with an exhibition at the museum, an accompanying catalogue, and a modest cash prize. The SECA Art Award distinguishes artists working independently at a high level of artistic maturity whose work has not yet received substantial recognition.

Each year, more than 200 artists working in a broad range of media are nominated by Bay Area art professionals, including museum and alternative-space curators, art school instructors, gallery owners, critics, SECA members, and former recipients of the SECA award.  After visiting the studios of approximately 30 finalists, the winners are selected by the SFMOMA curatorial staff.

SF Recycling & Disposal Artist in Residence Program

The Artist In Residence Program at SF Recycling & Disposal, Inc. is an innovative program that inspires and educates people about recycling and resource conservation by providing local artists with access to materials, a work space, and other resources at its Solid Waste Transfer and Recycling Center.

Since 1990, artists have worked in a large, well-equipped studio next to the Transfer Station west of Highway 101 near Monster Park in San Francisco. The Transfer Station is located within a 44-acre property that includes several recycling facilities and the Public Disposal Area (also known as “the dump”).

Art is created from what would have been sent with the rest of San Francisco’s trash to landfills across the Bay or recycling plants across the nation.  It becomes part of the collection for 1 year.


SF Recycling’s advisory board is made up of artists, people in the art community, environmentalists, and educators. They evaluate applications based on demonstrated commitment to resource conservation and recycling through art, demonstrated experience in art education and/or environmental education, how the residency can provide the artist with professional growth, quality of previous work, the artist’s reputation, and references. The board also considers the artist’s use of materials and the types of tools available in the studio.

The Board selects between four and eight artists per year, depending on the number of part-time and full-time residencies.

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