Headlands Center for the Arts

Chiaro Award

The Chiaro Award is a fully sponsored artist residency and cash prize for an accomplished mid-career painter residing in the United States.  The award is designed to have meaningful impact on the life and career of one artist per year, by both recognizing past success and by fostering their ability to continue to produce exceptional and exemplary work in the medium of painting.

Residencies of six to ten weeks include dedicated use of a private studio, chef-prepared meals, comfortable housing, and a cash award of $15,000. The Chiaro Awardee will become part of the dynamic community of artists participating in Headlands’ programs, sharing in peer-to-peer creative exchange while developing his or her individual artistic practice.

Award Period

  • Please note: Due to the uncertainties created by COVID-19 and its impact on our 2020 and 2021 residency seasons, we have decided to waive application fees, normally $35-$45. Additionally, as we continue to assess how best to serve our 2020 Artists in Residence, please know your application for a 2021 residency may be held for consideration for 2022 instead. If that proves necessary, you will be notified and will have the opportunity to update your application.
  • Application period for 2021 program is April 1 through June 26, 2020. Residency period is March–November 2021. 

Application Fee

  • Early Bird (April 1–May 29): $15
  • Regular (May 29–June 26): $25

Program Goals

  • To support and have a meaningful impact on the lives and careers of accomplished painters creating exceptional and exemplary work
  • To bring outstanding painters into a dynamic professional network of creative practitioners and thinkers
  • To encourage artists to explore their ideas and work within the context of the Marin Headlands, a part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area
  • To foster a developing international community of artists centered in the Bay Area, and create opportunities for engagement and cross-cultural exchange between artists and audiences

Program Details

  • Fully sponsored 6- to 10-week residency with a cash award of $15,000
  • Paid roundtrip airfare
  • 750 square foot studio
  • Private bedroom in shared house
  • A maximum four week stay for families in the Family House (by request only and subject to availability)
  • Five chef-prepared meals per week
  • Use of Headlands’ vehicles on and off-site
  • Facilities access:
    – Basic woodshop
    – Audio/video equipment
    – Artists’ library with computers, scanner, and printer
  • Wi-Fi in designated spaces
  • Up to 15 Artists in Residence living on-site
  • Up to 25 other Headlands’ artists working on-site
  • Participation in monthly “Show & Tell” nights
  • Participation in seasonal Open House
  • Access to Headlands Public Events
  • Field trips to Bay Area museums, galleries, and cultural venues
  • Become part of Headlands Alumni Network


  • Artists who work primarily with painting & currently live in the United States
  • Mid-career artists not currently enrolled in an academic program
  • Alumni of Headlands’ Artists Programs are eligible to apply for the Chiaro Award, with the exception of previous recipients of Alumni New Works, Chamberlain, Chiaro, or Tournesol Awards.

Selection Criteria

  • Merit of past work
  • Demonstrated commitment to pursuing excellence and innovation in the discipline of painting
  • Readiness to engage with and benefit from the residency experience at Headlands (see program goals)
  • Potential to derive benefit from the Award overall, develop individual creative practice, and impact the community at Headlands and beyond

Selection Process

  • Headlands’ staff reviews applications to ensure completion and eligibility
  • Submissions are reviewed by a jury of knowledgeable and esteemed artists and arts professionals (particularly those with strong understanding of painting)
  • The jury evaluates each artist’s materials and selects finalists
  • Finalists are invited to present their work in a 20-minute phone or Skype interview to determine the final award selection

What You Need To Apply

A full application includes the following:

  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • Letter of interest outlining your specific interest in working at Headlands and how the Chiaro Award will affect your creative practice
  • List of three references and email addresses; please note, we do not want letters of reference
  • Documentation of recent work (see specifications below)
  • Please note, the application period will open on Monday, April 1. A link to the Slideroom application will be available on that date

Submit up to 12 images.
Submission of an image list with title, date, size, media, and, where applicable, conceptual intent, is optional.