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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


  1. Tampa's Blake High School seniors exhibit art at HCC Ybor

    Visual Arts

    Everyone seems to agree that the arts are a good thing for communities. But artists, both visual and performing, don't magically appear fully formed as young adults. They need training and nurturing and, sadly, our educational system doesn't supply enough of either in many schools. The good news is that our region has about a dozen magnet schools specializing in the arts, among them Blake High School in Tampa. The school's graduating seniors who have concentrated on visual arts will exhibit their work in painting, ceramics, sculpture, jewelry, photography, sculpture and digital art at the Ybor Campus Art Gallery of Hillsborough Community College beginning Dec. 4 and continuing through Dec. 15. A free reception and awards ceremony on Dec. 4 begins at 5 p.m. The gallery is on the HCC Ybor campus at Palm Avenue and 15th Street, Tampa. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and noon to 7 p.m. Tuesday. Free. (813) 253-7674....

  2. Bruce Marsh landscape paintings featured at Sarasota gallery

    Visual Arts

    Bruce Marsh, distinguished painter and professor emeritus at the University of South Florida, has created hundreds of landscape paintings, many of them of areas around his home in Ruskin. For "Bruce Marsh: Now and Then," curator Mark Ormond collected 10 years' worth of them and has installed them in Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art in Sarasota.

    Marsh's landscapes have often been more than beautiful representations, though they are that, too. His canvases can be multiple windows into a scene, painted as one might look at it, sweeping around for different perspectives, taking a long view then a closeup. His representational style is a wondrous effect to study, a dexterous, subtle blend of many brushstrokes that borders on abstraction until all cohere as something we recognize. Some of his current works address development in his rural area....

    Bruce Marsh, Bay Edge.
  3. See wealth of Spain's colonial empire at Ringling Museum

    Visual Arts


    We love looking in other people's homes, especially if they're rich other people. Back in the 18th century, people didn't get much richer than those living in Spain's colonial empire in Central and South America and the West Indies.

    "Behind Closed Doors: Art in the Spanish American Home, 1492-1898" at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art has a trove of art and decorative objects from homes of the people who came to the New World seeking, and finding, wealth derived from its natural resources. In the process, they evolved an eclectic style marrying the homeland and the new land with a bit of Asian opulence thrown in. ...

    This small sculpture of the Virgin Mary was probably a devotional piece for a private chapel. Its materials — ivory, wood, pigment, gilding, cloth and silver — suggest that the ivory head and hands were imported from the East and incorporated into the body by craftsmen, possibly in Mexico, Guatemala or Ecuador during the 18th century.
  4. Meet landscape painters Taylor Ikin, Joseph Melancon at Nuance Galleries

    Visual Arts

    You still have more than a week to enjoy the lovely landscapes of painters Taylor Ikin and Joseph Melancon at Nuance Galleries, 804 S Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, before their show closes on Dec. 30. But Friday is your final opportunity to meet them at the gallery. Ikin paints in watercolor, Melancon in oils, but their common ground is the Florida landscape. Join them for a free artists' reception on from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday and learn more about their individual techniques and Ikin's use of unconventional surfaces, as with the painting shown. (813) 875-0511 or

    Taylor Ikin, Morning Reflections, watercolor.
  5. Lawyer to discuss recovery of art looted by Nazis

    Visual Arts

    The sorry tale of art looted from museums and private collections in Europe by the Nazis during World War II has been told many times in books and films such as the recent Monuments Men. The restitution process is ongoing and difficult, which will be the topic of lawyer Howard Spiegler's talk at 7 p.m. today at Congregation Schaarai Zedek, 3303 W Swann Ave., Tampa. Spiegler, co-head of his New York law firm's International Art Law Group, discusses the history of stolen art recovery on behalf of Holocaust victims and their families. Coffee and dessert will be served after the lecture. The event is free but reservations at (813) 876-2377 are encouraged....

    New York attorney Howard Spiegler, an expert on recovering stolen Nazi art, will speak at a Tampa temple.
  6. CraftArt Festival fills St. Petersburg streets this weekend

    Visual Arts

    Fine crafts, already brimming in the newly expanded gallery at Florida CraftArt (formerly Florida Craftsmen Gallery), spill into the adjacent streets for the CraftArt Festival, the annual outdoor festival in downtown St. Petersburg. Held Saturday and Sunday, it features Florida craftsmen and those from around the United States.

    Unlike other such events that take place in park settings, this festival has an urban feel, set up on a closed-off city block at Central Avenue and Fifth Street, surrounded by restaurants, galleries and shops up and down Central Avenue....

    Terry Andrews, fused glass.
  7. Picasso/Dalí exhibition at Dalí Museum is historic, awe-inspiring

    Visual Arts

    I recall reading a French saying that goes something like this: In love there is always one who kisses and one who is kissed.

    It came to me as I walked through the historic "Picasso/Dalí, Dalí/ Picasso" exhibition at the Dalí Museum and is a facile oversimplification of the relationship between two of the greatest 20th century artists, yet this show suggests in many works the craving Salvador Dalí had for Pablo Picasso's approval and the ways Picasso chose to mete it out. ...

    William Jeffett, curator of special exhibitions at the Dalí Museum, pauses in front of two works that are part of the “Picasso/Dalí, Dalí/Picasso” exhibition: Salvador Dalí’s Apparatus and Hand (1927), left, and Pablo Picasso’s Woman in a Red Armchair (1929). The show features more than 80 paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures and archival materials including photos. It is open through Feb. 16.
  8. MFA combines Rosenquist, Rauschenberg for exhibit

    Visual Arts

    The art of James Rosenquist and the late Robert Rauschenberg immerses viewers in pop culture. We plunge into its currents, deep and shallow, filled with ideas and associations. They work differently but their broad aim is the same: to juxtapose images that might seem random but, in their hands, become a story of us. Rosenquist works primarily as a painter, Rauschenberg created mixed media sculptures and collages. Rosenquist's best-known work in the Tampa Bay area is the giant, colorful "Band-Aid" on the facade of the USF/All Children's Pediatric Research Building in St. Petersburg. Both also excel in the print medium, which is represented in this show. ...

    James Rosenquist, Diver’s Line, 1979, etching and aquatint with pochoir on paper.
  9. Painter's religious works gathered in exhibit

    Visual Arts

    The late Robert Hodgell was an exceptional painter (and I disclose owning one of his works) who left behind a varied body of subject matter. Those with religious themes have been gathered together for a group show at the Cobb Gallery at Eckerd College, 4200 54th Ave. S, St. Petersburg. Shown is a detail from Hodgell's Jonah's Journey, interpreting the Biblical story of Jonah and his quiet time spent in a whale. Also on view in the gallery is "Books of Common Prayer: Collages and Artist Books" by Margaret Brommelsiek. The gallery is open from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Free. It's open from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the Eckerd College Creative Arts Festival on Saturday.

  10. Looking for original gifts? Morean offers art three ways

    Visual Arts

    Galleries are gearing up for the holidays with a view to gift-giving. The Morean Arts Center is a fine example. With three venues — the Morean itself, its Center for Clay and the Chihuly Collection — you'll find a lot of variety and prices high to low (mostly on the affordable side). For information about all venues, go to or call (727) 822-7872.

    Morean Arts Center...

    Thomas Murray, painting, at Morean Arts Center.
  11. Art to hold your gaze at ARTicles Art Gallery

    Visual Arts

    Nathan Beard's series of "Exit Music" paintings have a hypnotic quality as most repetitive experiences do. The spirals of color begin and end "beyond" the frames and suggest a continuum. Trying to figure out the pattern in the swirls of mutating colors keeps the compositions from becoming formulaic. See the collection at ARTicles Art Gallery, 1445 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, through Dec. 6. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. For the Second Saturday Art Walk on Saturday, the gallery remains open until 9 p.m. Free. Lennie Bennett, Times art critic...

    Nathan Beard, Kundali, from his “Exit Music” show at ARTicles Gallery.
  12. Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso joint exhibition illuminates development of both

    Visual Arts

    ST. PETERSBURG — Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso: Together at last.

    For the first time, two of the 20th century's greatest artists can be assessed in direct comparison in the groundbreaking "Picasso/Dalí, Dalí/Picasso" exhibition, co-organized by Museu Picasso in Barcelona, Spain, and opening Saturday at the Dalí Museum in downtown St. Petersburg.

    Dalí Museum director Hank Hine welcomed members of the national media to a preview Sunday, saying that although it's a "scholarly exhibition, it's accessible in its entry point and its conclusions," setting up a dialogue between the two artists and their responses to common experiences happening around them and to each other's work....

    Bernardo Laniado-Romero, director of the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, Spain, and Lenora Suttle view Apparatus and Hand, left, by Salvador Dalí and Woman in a Red Armchair by Pablo Picasso during a media tour of the new joint exhibit.
  13. Tom James of Raymond James Financial commits up to $75 million for art museum

    Visual Arts

    Tom James has been talking for almost 10 years about founding a museum to house his vast art collection without having any specific plans.

    Until now.

    He still has major decisions to make, but he has committed up to $75 million of his personal fortune to building it, identified several sites in St. Petersburg he would like to explore and set a target date, June 30, to find a location so the project can get rolling. He no longer speaks of hoping to get it done; he seems resolved to do so....

    Tom James, executive chairman of Raymond James, has amassed some 2,500 works of art.
  14. At Museum of Fine Arts, portraits of a man who changed ballet

    Visual Arts


    Ballet was not an art form of the masses until Rudolf Nureyev came along in the 1960s. A Russian defector who became a European and American superstar, Nureyev brought ballet into mainstream, popular culture with his dramatic story line, brooding charisma and, of course, his astonishing talent.

    Jamie Wyeth has never had Nureyev's level of public fame but has achieved his own considerable accolades as a painter, helped early on by his genealogical provenance as the son of Andrew Wyeth and grandson of N.C. Wyeth, both revered artists, but he established himself and has a formidable reputation....

    Jamie Wyeth, Nureyev — Don Quixote — White Background, 2001, mixed media.
  15. Dunedin Art Harvest: Good art for a good cause

    Visual Arts

    You will think it odd that I begin a preview of an outdoor arts festival with a mention of a program for teenagers who will soon "age-out" of the foster care system. That's because to talk about one, we really have to talk about the other.

    Both are projects of the Junior League of Clearwater-Dunedin, a volunteer women's organization with 500 members. Art Harvest, the annual arts and fine crafts extravaganza on Saturday and Sunday, is a fundraiser. It helps pay for the league's service projects that can change from year to year in response to community needs. This year it's the Teen Training Center. Since the league was founded in 1948, it has raised more than $1.5 million and helped numerous local agencies and causes with that money. Art Harvest has been going strong for 51 years so it has been a part of those funding efforts for almost as long as the organization has been around....

    James Carter, mixed media.