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. Polk Museum gets 'All Decked Out' with skateboard art

    Visual Arts

    Skateboarders may resist their culture going mainstream but it seems inevitable when the venerable Smithsonian Institution creates Innoskate, a festival started in 2013. The Polk Museum of Art, 800 E Palmetto St., Lakeland, jumps on board with "All Decked Out," an exhibition of painted decks, such as those by Dan Lasata, shown here, photography, drawings and sculptures curated for the museum by Chad and Suzie Cardoza. It opens Saturday with a free reception from 2 to 5 p.m. with some artists on hand. It continues through July 20. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and free for kids and students with ID. Free on Thursday. (863) 688-7743; polkmuseumofart.org....

    Painted skateboard decks by Dan Lasata are part of the Polk Museum of Art’s “All Decked Out” exhibition.
  2. 3 intriguing exhibits winding down at Morean Arts Center

    Visual Arts

    You have only a few days to see three exhibitions at the Morean Arts Center before they close. Make time, because you'll be rewarded with first-rate examples of technical skill and intriguing themes.

    Carol Dameron and Diane Elmeer have their own galleries for their paintings and, in Dameron's case, drawings as well. Though different in style, their works have connections, the central two being their use of oil paint on wood, which creates a rich, luminous surface, and the mysterious landscapes they create for their peopled narratives. ...

    Diane Elmeer, Dragons in the Woodpile, oil on panel.
  3. Review: Siskind photographs document Harlem of the 1930s

    Visual Arts


    Harlem has been many things to many people since the 17th century when the Dutch established it as a military outpost in upper Manhattan. It became a farming village; a battlefield during the American Revolution; an affluent, prerailroad suburb; a postrail commuter town; an immigrant melting pot; a center of black culture; and a slum. Today, it's a mix, with areas of ghetto devastation and tony gentrification....

    The “Harlem Documents” photographs by Aaron Siskind in this exhibition are gifts of collectors Dr. Robert and Chitranee  Drapkin who were friends of Siskind and underwrote the 1991 republication of his book. He didn’t use titles for most of them so there is no identifying information. All are gelatin silver prints.
  4. Tampa sculptor takes best in show award at 39th Mainsail Arts Festival

    Visual Arts

    ST. PETERSBURG — Charles Parkhill, whose cerebral wood sculptures have been the subject of several exhibitions at museums and prestigious galleries, took the $10,000 best-in-show award at the 39th annual Mainsail Arts Festival on Sunday. He said he'll probably use it for a down payment on a new van, "but I'm not sure. This is such a shock."

    But a good one, he said, adding that sales had been very good on Saturday, echoing affirmatives from other artists and Mainsail's chairman, Jane Ferguson....

    Craig Gardei, 55, of St. Petersburg watches his 5-year-old granddaughter, Lilly DaCunha, point to artwork called the Almighty created by local artist Frank Strunk, who specializes in kinetic industrial metal art, during the 39th annual Mainsail Art Festival held at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg on Sunday,.
  5. Mainsail brings 270 artists to Vinoy Park

    Visual Arts

    Mainsail Art Festival, coming Saturday and Sunday to Vinoy Park, needs little introduction after 38 years. In that time, the outdoor festival in a downtown waterfront park in St. Petersburg has brought together thousands of artists and hundreds of thousands of visitors. Some of those visitors have been seasoned collectors; many have been newbies who bought their first piece of art there. Mainsail, like the other excellent outdoor art shows in the region, is a good entry point for those interested in art and fine craft who may have little knowledge of them. Favorite artists who live far away return each year to connect with their fans. And all of the most accessible media are represented, including painting, drawing, photography, ceramics and jewelry. ...

    Warner Whitfield, glass
  6. Berk Fine Art Collective opens in St. Petersburg

    Visual Arts

    Welcome to Berk Fine Art Collective, a new gallery at 10 Fifth St. N in St. Petersburg's Central Arts District. It features painters Tammy Berk, Robert Sutherland, whose work is shown, and Karan Porter, each with an impressive resume. See their work at the gallery from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. (727) 692-5563.

    Image from Berk Fine Art

    Oil on Canvas Original by Robert Sutherland, “Pinellas Girl” at Berk Fine Art Collective in St. Petersburg.
  7. Wyeth painting from Museum of Fine Arts on loan to National Gallery

    Visual Arts

    The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., is one of the major museums in the United States. Like all great museums, it organizes most of its shows based on its world-class permanent collection, often augmented by loans from other institutions and private collectors.

    The Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg is one of those lenders for a new exhibition opening at the National Gallery on May 4....

    Andrew Wyeth’s Wisteria, 1981, watercolor on paper, is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg. It’s now on loan to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., for a prestigious exhibition.
  8. Warhol exhibit extended at Dalí Museum

    Visual Arts

    Andy's sticking around a little longer.

    "Warhol: Art. Fame. Mortality." has been such a popular exhibition at the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, its stay has been extended for five weeks. Scheduled to close on April 27, the exhibition will instead remain through June 1.

    Warhol (1928-1987) is probably the most famous American artist of the 20th century and was the star of the Pop Art Movement, which featured appropriated images and sleek surfaces. ...

  9. St. Pete ArtWalk keeps growing

    Visual Arts

    The temperatures and humidity are still dandy for outdoor art events, especially in the evenings. So while the good weather lasts, clear your calendar for the April Second Saturday ArtWalk in St. Petersburg. With almost 40 varied venues (mostly galleries, mostly free) in five designated arts districts, it has become a major monthly event in St. Petersburg, spreading from the downtown west to 30th Street and south to Ninth Avenue. ...

    Michele Tuegel Contemporary, 320 Central Ave., is a gallery that manages to be both elegant and fun. Tuegel is a fine craftsman herself and for decades was director of Florida Craftsmen Gallery. (It’s also on the tour.) Her contacts range far and wide so offerings tend to be eclectic and interesting. Right now, she features mixed-media works by Laura Bombalino (a sculpture is shown here) and necklaces by Diana Samper.  (Image from Michele Tuegel) 
  10. Machines that spring from da Vinci's designs

    Visual Arts

    Happy Birthday on April 15, Leonardo da Vinci! The great painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer was born in 1452. Leonardo was the original Renaissance man. As an inventor, he dreamed big, and many of his designs were prescient of inventions centuries later, including the helicopter. "Da Vinci Machines" at the Bradenton Municipal Auditorium, 1005 First Ave. W, features 60 machines, handcrafted by Italian craftsmen from da Vinci's designs. Shown is a glider. It continues through July 7. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $15.95, $13.95 for seniors and military with ID and $11.95 for children 4 to 14. Under 4 free. discoverdavinci.com. ...

    The “Da Vinci Machines” exhibition is at Bradenton Municipal Auditorium through July 7.
  11. Review: Labauvie sculptures at Leepa-Rattner just look simple

    Visual Arts


    Art isn't well served in reproductions. You generally get what it looks like but not what it is. Subtle and/or dimensional art suffers the most.

    Dominique Labauvie's sculpture is an example. It looks so simple, too simple, in photographs. It isn't. To understand why, you have to walk around the pieces. At every stop, you see them differently. Look up close and you see the texture of the metal, the seams created when forms are attached to each other. You compare the roughness of the material with the sleek elegance wrought from rigorous editing. You follow the line, which is everything in these works....

    Angelico (1991) has vestigial form, presaging the pure abstraction of the recent pieces.
  12. Review: Wedgwood show at Plant Museum is craft of highest order

    Visual Arts


    I thought I knew Wedgwood: the elegant jasperware with a matte-colored background (most famously blue), decorated with bas-relief flora and fauna, or the pretty bone china dinnerware.

    Turns out I have a lot more to learn after a visit to "The Pottery of Wedgwood" at the Henry B. Plant Museum. The special exhibition is small, with about 70 pieces, mostly from the 19th century, but it has a wide range of styles and techniques, demonstrating that Wedgwood defies categorization. ...

    Emile Aubert-Lessore was a respected artist, hired to create paintings on Wedgwood creamware in the 19th century. He was one of the few artists allowed to sign his name.
  13. Janos Enyedi's 'Images of Industry' exhibit opens in Sarasota

    Visual Arts

    In any context, the artist Janos Enyedi died too soon. That he died suddenly in 2011 at 63, just six months after moving to St. Petersburg, increases the loss. In that short time, he was already a wonderful presence in the arts community.

    But he created a lot of good art during his lifetime and a retrospective of his career can be seen in "Janos Enyedi: Images of Industry" at Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art. Roy Slade, former director of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Cranbrook Art Museum, knew Enyedi as a student; he co-curated it with his widow Diana. A free opening reception is from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday....

    Janos Enyedi, Heartland Souvenir, 1998, acrylic, encaustic, graphite, basswood on archival board.
  14. 'Site Specific' at Polk Museum features Central Florida artists

    Visual Arts

    The Polk Museum of Art's current show, "Site Specific," features Dan Gunderson and Barbara Sorensen, two Central Florida "environmental" artists, meaning they often create environments within galleries, though visually their work is quite different. Among Gunderson's recent work are kaleidoscopic assemblages of small toys such as one show here. Sorensen takes an earthy, organic approach. See the exhibition at the museum, 800 E Palmetto St., Lakeland, through June 7. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $5 adults, $4 seniors and free for children and students with ID. polkmuseumofart.org or (863) 688-7743....

     Barbara Sorensen, “Topographies Installation,” 2007, includes “Boat Installation” in the background (stoneware and stones) and “Foothills Installation” in the foreground (stoneware, video and sound).
  15. Chihuly Collection gets larger gift shop in new director's renovation

    Visual Arts

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Chihuly Collection, starring Dale Chihuly's dramatic glass installations, has been a big arts destination since it opened in 2010 on Beach Drive in downtown St. Petersburg.

    Soon, it will have a larger draw thanks to help from a Chihuly expert. Reconfigured space has been turned into a new 800-square-foot gallery for special exhibitions and a 2,500-square-foot gift shop. ...

    The Chihuly Collection on Beach Drive in St. Petersburg will soon have an 800-square-foot gallery for special exhibits and a 2,500-square-foot gift shop with a variety of merchandise.