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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. Art Planner: Restorative shows at the Tampa Museum of Art, USF

    Visual Arts


    You might not read this until late in the day, during football game commercials, and that's okay since arts venues are closed today. But there's tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, as Shakespeare wrote, and I suggest you pause during your holiday busyness for a restorative break. You know of what I speak: a visit to a gallery or art museum. Those who frequent them understand. Looking at art is both a literal act of standing still and a mental act of discovery. I always leave such encounters feeling better regardless of how rotten I had felt before. ...

    Christo, drawing for the Gates installation in New York City, image from Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego
  2. Famed artist Christo to speak at Tampa Museum of Art Friday

    Visual Arts

    Christo, the great wrap artist, is coming to the Tampa Museum of Art.

    He and Jeanne-Claude, his late wife, are world-famous for monumental fabric installations that have temporarily redefined landscapes and landmarks around the world.

    The Gates, which featured more than 7,500 gates hanging with about 60 miles of saffron-colored fabric winding through Central Park in 2005, received rave reviews from visitors and critics....

    Christo and Jean-Claude's "The Gates," wind through the southeastern corner of Central Park on the art installation's opening day, Saturday, Feb. 12, 2005, in New York. The art project, 20 years in the planning, is a series of 7,500 orange gates with hanging saffron fabric panels spread over 23 miles of Central Park paths.  (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
  3. Art Planner: Florida CraftArt festival, Morean show, photography exhibits in St. Petersburg

    Visual Arts


    Not street art but art in the street: That's the annual Florida CraftArt event, now in its 18th year, this weekend outside its headquarters at 501 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. More than 100 craft artists will present their handiwork that includes the purely whimsical and the whimsically utilitarian.

    The Central Arts District, in which the festival is located, is one of the most vibrant and eclectic retail areas in the downtown, packed with shops, restaurants and galleries so there's plenty to do while you're there. On site will be artist demonstrations and make-and-take activities. Inside Florida CraftArt are more holiday shopping possibilities from its galleries converted to a boutique for the season....

    The Florida CraftArt event will have whimsical handiwork, including mixed media by Ed Myers.
  4. Review: Tampa skating rink a 1970s muse for photographer Bill Yates

    Visual Arts

    Bill Yates has been a photographer for most of his life and has practiced many different applications of the medium. Visit his website,, and you'll see ravishing examples of his aerial photography, for example, beautifully framed landscapes lush with color.

    Then visit and you'll find an edgy portfolio in black and white that doesn't look as if it had come from the same lens. In a sense, it didn't. Yates, 69, shot that group of photographs more than four decades ago when he was a young man studying photography at the University of South Florida. ...

    Bill Yates, Untitled, R5, #6, gelatin silver print, 1972-73, printed 2015.
  5. Art Planner: Second Saturday Artwalk, holiday shopping at Studio 1212

    Visual Arts


    Using "fresh" to describe this venerable St. Petersburg event may seem contradictory. But each month, year in and year out, you'll find new art and fine craft on view and for sale in dozens of galleries and studios.

    It began as a several-block area that had a few arts venues and fewer restaurants and, over the decades, has expanded to include several arts districts. Trying to walk to all of them would require the stamina of a marathon runner. ...

    Sculptor Salvador Saint Germain.
  6. Try This: We love Stonewall Kitchen's Roasted Garlic Onion Jam


    Stonewall Kitchen has been a beloved brand for almost two decades. The company began small, making artisanal jams, and has grown into a powerhouse producer of hundreds of crackers, pancake mixes, soups, sauces and other products. I have never tried one I didn't like.

    I have one all-time favorite, though: Roasted Garlic Onion Jam.

    It's one of Stonewall Kitchen's oldest offerings and the one that put the company on the map. Jonathan King and Jim Stott had been moonlighting from their day jobs in the early 1990s, cooking up batches of jam that they sold (and sold out of) at weekend markets. They began adding flavored oils and savory spreads such as pesto, to great success. They expanded and began a small wholesale business. In the mid-1990s, an admirer suggested they display at the Fancy Food Show in New York, attended by thousands of hopeful purveyors and about 40,000 retailers looking for the Next Big Thing in food. In 1995, at their first show, they won the outstanding jam award for Roasted Garlic Onion Jam. ...

    Roasted Garlic Onion Jam, one of Stonewall Kitchen’s oldest offerings, put the company on the map, and for good reason.
  7. Art Planner: Arty holiday shopping in Dunedin, UT faculty show and more

    Visual Arts


    'Tis the season when galleries, museums and festivals entice you with gift-giving opportunities beyond the big boxes. This weekend, you'll find two big events side by side in Dunedin: Art Harvest and "All Decked Out" at the Dunedin Fine Art Center.

    Art Harvest, now 52 years old, is a fundraiser organized by the Junior League of Clearwater-Dunedin to fund community projects. One of its signature ones is a teen training center for children aging out of foster care. ...

    James Carter, whose painting is shown, is the featured artist at Art Harvest.
  8. Art Planner: Tricks are a treat at Dunedin Fine Art Center, plus SarasotaMOD and Duncan McClellan

    Visual Arts


    The Sarasota School of Architecture, also called Sarasota Modern, blossomed in the mid 20th century as one with a particular vernacular suited to the climate in Sarasota. Why in Sarasota? At that time, it had the most impressive arts community on Florida's west coast and probably the wealthiest population of snowbirds.

    Many of the buildings, especially the homes, still exist. They were designed to maximize comfort in our hot, humid climate before air-conditioning became ubiquitous....

    Timed tours of Paul Rudolph’s Umbrella House are on the schedule for Nov. 7.
  9. Enjoy wrapping your brain around the work of Christo and Jeanne-Claude

    Visual Arts


    Christo and Jeanne-Claude became famous for their grand installations that use thousands of yards of fabric to temporarily alter a landscape, such as surrounding the islands in Miami's Biscayne Bay, shrouding Berlin's Reichstag and planting festive panels through New York's Central Park.

    Alas, we do not have one of those glorious interventions in "XTO + J-C: Christo and Jeanne-Claude Featuring Works From the Bequest of David C. Copley" at the Tampa Museum of Art. It's a collection of drawings, prints, collages and a few sculptures, plus photographs of the installations, so I was primed for a close-but-no-cigar reaction. Just goes to show that the cliche about assumptions is often true....

    Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Running Fence, 1972-76, is the subject of a documentary that is being shown as part of the “XTO + J-C: Christo and Jeanne-Claude” exhibit at the Tampa Museum of Art.
  10. Art Planner: See new St. Petersburg SHINE murals on a bike tour, Family Day at TMA

    Visual Arts




    Combine your weekend bike ride with an art tour on Sunday's Tour de SHINE. Two bike tours, with guides, begin at St. Pete Bike Co-op, 559 Mirror Lake Drive N, and cycle around to see the murals created during the recent SHINE Mural Festival. One departs at 10 a.m. and the second at noon. Along for the ride will be some of the artists who created the murals to talk about them. An after-party at the Amsterdam, 1049 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, has music drink specials and giveaways. The $10 per rider donation benefits next year's SHINE Mural Festival. Limited to 80 rides per tour. For information and to order tickets, go to

    Works by the four potters of Green Bench Ceramics.
  11. New St. Petersburg murals add more than color to the community

    Visual Arts


    The SHINE Mural Festival is officially over. Yet, it isn't. Seventeen new murals commissioned by festival organizers remain, joining other new, non-SHINE murals and dozens more preceding them. Collectively, they have begun to define visually the Central Avenue corridor and beyond.


    The wall on the east side of the GeniusCentral headquarters building on Fifth Avenue S features another mural by Carrie Jadus, this one a portrait of inventor Nikola Tesla.
  12. Museum memberships, family attraction passes can add up to big money savings

    Visual Arts

    Museum visits and family attractions can be a great way to fill a weekend, but they can quickly empty your wallet, so deciding to become a member or getting an annual pass requires a little self reflection — and math.

    "People are loathe to do the math," said Suzanne Rowan Kelleher, family vacation expert at "I see people all the time who sort of panic, and they pull the trigger and buy the most expensive pass and every bell and whistle. The trick is to buy what you need, but not more than you'll use."...

    Eleanor Perlman of Tampa looks at a piece by Anish Kapoor at the Tampa Museum of Art in June. Membership ranges from $50 to $80.
  13. St. Petersburg's Dale Chihuly Collection moving to larger space on Central Avenue

    Visual Arts

    ST. PETERSBURG — We have heard the buzz for months about a move for the Chihuly Collection.

    Now, it's official: The museum-like gallery of works by superstar glass artist Dale Chihuly plans to move from its 400 Beach Drive NE location to the 700 block of Central Avenue, across the street from the Morean Arts Center, which owns the collection. The anticipated date for the opening is fall 2016....

    A rendering of new location of the Chihuly Collection, which is moving from 400 Beach Drive to the 700 block of Central Avenue in St. Petersburg. [Rendering by CSJM Architects]
  14. St. Petersburg arts endowment would be investment for the long term

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — It would be the gift that keeps on giving.

    Among Mayor Rick Kriseman's diverse portfolio of potential recipients for the $6.5 million BP settlement is $1 million for an arts endowment, the only one among the group so designated. As an endowment, the money wouldn't be spent as a one-time outlay. Instead, it would be invested with only the interest used annually, estimated at $40,000 by the mayor....

    St. Petersburg's budget of about $1 million for cultural organizations and events includes line items such as rent abatement for the Florida Orchestra. [MONICA HERNDON | Times]
  15. Art Planner: Small Art, Good Cause at Tampa Museum of Art, plus exhibits at Nuance and Syd Entel

    Visual Arts


    The annual fundraiser Friday at the Tampa Museum of Art benefiting the Arts Council of Hillsborough County features about 600 works by 400 artists from our region, other states, even a few international contributors. Each measures 5 inches by 5 inches, sometimes by another 5 inches if the work is dimensional, and all are priced at $25. Media include painting, drawing, etching, sculpture, ceramics, glass, photography and fiber. ...

    Photographer Matt Stock’s Serenity and Elysian Fields is at Nuance Galleries.