Lennie Bennett, Times Art Critic

Lennie Bennett

Lennie Bennett joined the Times in 1995 as the "On the Town" columnist and also wrote general assignment stories on a variety of topics, including local arts, cultural issues and philanthropy. She became the art critic in 2002. She reviews the visual arts in all forms throughout the Tampa Bay area and, on occasion, nationally. She has also been a regular panelist for various arts organizations.

Phone: (727) 893-8293

Email: lennie@tampabay.com

  1. Gallery 1356 opens in Clearwater

    Visual Arts

    Let's welcome a new arts venue to Clearwater! Gallery 1356 opens Sept. 18 with a free reception from 6 to 9 p.m. The gallery at 1356 S Fort Harrison Ave. features sculptures by its owner, J. Harrison Smith (whose work is shown), plus works in other media, including painting, by June Harben, Lisbeth Graham, Sylvia Shanahan and Liz Smith. (It's also a working studio for several artists.) Regular gallery hours will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays. jharrisonsmith.sculpture@gmail.com or (727) 458-4206....

    J. Harrison Smith, owner of Gallery 1356, created this sculpture.
  2. Artist will not show hacked naked celeb photos after all

    Visual Arts

    Simmer down, everyone.

    An exhibit of enlarged prints of hacked photographs of Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton that was scheduled to debut at a St. Petersburg art gallery in October will not go on view.

    Since Cory Allen, owner of Cory Allen Contemporary Art, announced the show about a week ago, he and artist XVALA have received international media attention and a withering barrage of protests and criticism. But Allen said in a news release that the cancellation came because of several organized petition efforts. ...

    Hacked nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence will not be shown in a St. Petersburg gallery. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision)
  3. St. Petersburg's ArtWalk expands to the beach

    Visual Arts

    The Second Saturday ArtWalk in St. Petersburg is expanding its boundaries this week as it continues to pick up steam, especially now that fall is upon us. I know: it seems like a cruel joke of the calendar as our air conditioners crank away, but arts venues are beginning to roll our their new shows. (One that has my particular attention is a group exhibit by EyeSplice Collective at the Morean Arts Center. Stay tuned for more on it.)...

    Image from ARTicles Art Gallery
  4. St. Petersburg art show to feature hacked nude celebrity photos

    Visual Arts

    St. Petersburg is getting national attention for an art exhibition planned to open Oct. 30 — and it won't feature the Old Masters.

    Cory Allen Contemporary Art, a new gallery in the Warehouse Arts District at 2121 Second Ave. S, has announced plans for a show featuring Los Angeles artist XVALA 's prints on canvas of recently hacked nude photographs of Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence and actor-model Kate Upton, among others. The show will likely contain 20 to 24 works....

    The prints that the St. Petersburg gallery plans to exhibit in October are part of an ongoing series titled “Fear Google” by Los Angeles artist XVALA.
  5. Graffiti muralists featured at Tampa art gallery

    Visual Arts

    If the graffiti world isn't the boys' club it once was, we can look to women like Allison Torneros for being part of that change.

    Hueman is her art moniker; under that name she has become a very successful muralist with commissions from national companies, including Nike. Her work and that of Rene Gagnon, Mateu Velasco, Rodrigo Valles and Natalia Rak will be featured in "Outsiders: From Street to Canvas" at the Contemporary Art Space and Studio, 2722 S MacDill Ave., Tampa....

    Rene Gagnon, another of the exhibit’s featured artists, works on a mural.
  6. See some of the area's biggest art shows before they move on

    Visual Arts

    Summer has been, by tradition, a slow time for area museums because the heat and humidity have kept many residents and tourists away. Times have changed, and with them, we have seen ambitious and important exhibitions become the summer norm instead of the exception in many of them. So before they leave in a month or two, we're revisiting a few, encouraging those who haven't seen them to go — and those who have to consider seeing them again. They're worth second looks. ...

    “Richard Beckman: Outside the Curve of Reason” will end Sept. 6 at the University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum. Beckman was essentially a sculptor, and some excellent examples of his work are on view in this show.
  7. Step into the Airstream to check out art

    Visual Arts

    Photographers Matt and Rebecca Sexton Larson don't stay still for long ever since they launched Boxfoto, a movable concept to create, show and sell their work. The husband and wife roll all over the place in their nifty Airstream, outfitted as a mobile studio and display center for their own work and that of people who enroll in their photography classes. But a collection of their photographs has settled temporarily at the Visual Arts Gallery at Hillsborough Community College's Ybor campus at Palm Avenue and 15th Street, Tampa. They work independently but both specialize in historic photographic processes such as tintype, bromoil and cyanotype. In addition to prints on the gallery walls, a few of the charming pinhole cameras Rebecca Larson makes from almost anything (martini shaker, cigar box, paper cups, for example) will also be on view. ...

    Rebecca Sexton Larson, Drifting, 2014, bromoil print.
  8. Extended Members' Show closing at Morean

    Visual Arts

    Friday is absolutely, positively the last day to see the popular Members' Show at the Morean Arts Center, 719 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. It was scheduled to close earlier in August but was extended. Shown is Steven Kenny's oil painting, St. Petersburg Alley #5. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Free. moreanartscenter.org or (727) 822-7872.

    Image from the Morean Arts Center...

    Steven Kenny, St. Petersburg Alley #5, oil on panel.
  9. Review: Thomas Chimes' eclectic art intrigues at Ringling

    Visual Arts


    Thomas Chimes could have been part of the fraternity known as the abstract expressionists with distinguished members such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Barnett Newman. But he was only in his early 30s in the 1950s when that New York art movement was in full flower and probably felt he had nothing new to add to it.

    So he formed a society of one and created art that interested him. If the works on view at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art are representative of his career, he's impossible to categorize. A vibrantly colored, enigmatic mural, Dada-esque metal sculptures and Old-Master influenced panel portraits of famous people he admired all come from the same hand. ...

    Thomas Chimes, Self Portrait, 1947, oil on masonite on panel.
  10. 10th Wearable Art Fashion Show is at Dunedin Fine Art Center

    Visual Arts

    A 10-year mark for an event makes it eligible for the tag "venerable," so the 10th annual Wearable Art Fashion Show on Saturday at the Dunedin Fine Art Center could indeed be considered venerable. But that's such a stately word for a show that remains fresh and fun and wears its decade lightly.

    In a new format, runway models will be young professionals from around the Tampa Bay area who are collaborating with designers. This will be interesting since some of the fashions in the past have often been, let's say, over the top. (Raw meat, anyone?)...

    Julian Hartzog came up with this little number.
  11. Slow down and take a look at the art in Tampa's airport

    Visual Arts

    There are some new bright spots at Tampa International Airport: paintings by Neverne Covington, seated here in front of them where they hang on a wall of the main terminal on the walkway to the Marriott Hotel. This is a good opportunity to remind ourselves that the airport is full of lively art. True, a lot of it is in airside areas open only to ticket holders. But the next time you fly, slow down and take some moments to pause before the art you're about to hurry by. And spend time with art in other airports, too. Good for layovers....

    Neverne Covington with her paintings at Tampa International Airport.
  12. Video: Balloon sculpture at Museum of Fine Arts will blow you away

    Visual Arts

    If you've ever been impressed by a balloon animal, prepare to be blown away by a new art exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg made up entirely of balloons.

    Artist Jason Hackenwerth worked all day Monday to install a sculpture consisting of thousands of interwoven latex balloons that create a massive aqua-marine form titled Fleeting Innocence that will hang from the ceiling of the Conservatory at the museum. The art is expected to remain up for a couple of weeks. ...

    Balloons rise against the windows in the Conservatory. DIRK SHADD   |   Times  

  13. Review: Michelangelo's life framed in 'Six Masterpieces'


    Michelangelo Buonarroti was, despite his first name, no angel. He was intensely, ungraciously competitive, overly sensitive to any behavior he considered a slight, and his loyalties and allegiance generally swung with the political winds. He left many projects unfinished to the dismay and anger of his patrons because he would lose interest when presented with a new challenge. His brilliance superseded those personality traits for many of the wealthy and powerful who coveted his art, and he did more than any other artist of his time to shift the perception of an artist as a gifted servant to one who was a superior individual because of those gifts. ...

    Michelangelo created David, which can be viewed at the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, before he turned 30. The marble statue is 17 feet tall.
Getty Images (2004)
  14. Review: Biography illuminates, but 'Mona Lisa' still an enigma


    The woman with the famously mysterious smile has herself been a mystery for centuries. In Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered, Dianne Hales doesn't discover much about the subject of the most famous painting in the world that we don't already know, but she does put Lisa del Giocondo's life in credible context, bulking up the scant verifiable details with the social and political history of her times and weaving into the book a parallel biography of the life of Leonardo da Vinci, who immortalized her....

    Leonardo da Vinci kept the Mona Lisa with him until his death in 1519. Today it hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris. The Lisa in the painting is Lisa Gherardini.
  15. New walking tour shows off St. Petersburg's many murals

    Visual Arts

    Anyone passing through the Central Arts District in downtown St. Petersburg can't help but notice that as much seems to happen on the outside of its buildings as on the inside, thanks to an aggressive mural program washing the exteriors in vibrant images by many artists in many styles.

    Just six blocks long, the district, running along Third and Ninth streets between First Avenue N and S, is home to an astonishing 25 murals and counting. ...

    Painted by Chris Parks, Leon Bedore, and the Vitale Brothers, this mural is located behind the State Theatre on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg on May 13, 2014.