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From Olymipc hopes to Lingerie Football to her own art exhibition

Art and sports. The worlds seldom collide unless you're Shannon Bennett.

Bennett is an accomplished skeet and trap shooter and former football player for the Lingerie Football League.

She's also an artist who paints portraits of local athletes.

Recently, she combined the two in a series of paintings titled ''Signature Moments in Sports.'' The collection goes on display Monday for a one-night show at the Tampa Museum of Art.

"I'm so passionate about sports, and I'm so passionate about art,'' she said. "It really brings together the things that I love.''

Bennett, 30, has been painting all her life but started the 40-piece athlete collection in July. She paints in a spare bedroom of her Harbour Island home in the Garrison condos.

The large-scale oil and acrylic paintings capture special moments in each athlete's career, like Derrick Brooks holding up the Super Bowl trophy and B.J. Upton waiting to bat against the Yankees.

Cadillac Williams' reaction upon signing his painting on Tuesday: "Wow, that really looks like me.''

That's exactly the idea.

All of the paintings will be auctioned off at Monday's gala, except that of former Bucs player Gaines Adams, a close friend of Bennett who died early this year. She might save it for his mother.

A portion of each portrait sold will go to the athlete's favorite charity. The raffle winner will get their pick of any athlete for Bennett to paint.

Bennett chose subjects who she feels stand out on and off the field. She met most of them last year at charity events while playing for the Lingerie Football League's Tampa Breeze.

Show organizers are hoping for a star-studded turnout. Athletes such as Williams, Upton, Evan Longoria, Winky Wright, Antonio Tarver, Ian Beckles, Yo Murphy, Brooks and Ronde Barber have shown "very great interest'' in attending, said Bennett's manager, sports agent Gary Lewis. Bennett considers many of them her personal friends.

The Durant High graduate did softball, gymnastics and cheerleading in school and particularly excelled in shooting, a traditionally male-dominated sport. "Any sport that I can go head to head with a boy is my forte,'' she said.

Bennett won two gold medals in skeet- and trap-shooting events in the Junior Olympics. She qualified for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney but withdrew after her trainer died.

She refocused on painting after the birth of her now 6-year-old twin boys, doing murals in play rooms and nurseries. Hosting the art show culminates a lifelong goal.

"Most little girls dream of the fairy tale wedding,'' she said. "I've always had a dream of having this elaborate art gala.''

Sporting art

Shannon Bennett's Signature Moments in Sports Art Gala starts at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Tampa Museum of Art, 120 W Gasparilla Plaza, downtown Tampa. Tickets are $35; attire is formal. Call 1-800-372-0109 or go to amazingmasterpieces.


From Olymipc hopes to Lingerie Football to her own art exhibition 11/11/10 [Last modified: Thursday, November 11, 2010 11:26pm]
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