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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: Make your own glass pumpkins, meet Clyde Butcher and take in photos of 1960s rockers

    Visual Arts


    The masterful photographer Clyde Butcher is a Florida artist through and through but he prefers the wilds of the state to its cities, so meeting him on our turf doesn't occur often.

    He'll be at Michele Tuegel Contemporary Gallery, 320 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, for a free opening reception and signing Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m. to launch a show of his work....

    You can meet Clyde Butcher on Saturday at Michele Tuegel Contemporary Gallery, 320 Central Ave., St. Petersburg.
  2. Works in Dali Museum's M.C. Escher exhibit boggle, stretch the mind

    Visual Arts


    M.C. Escher seems as puzzling as his art. He had friends, but only an early teacher was, apparently, a fellow artist. He didn't have an art dealer. He expressed little or no interest in the art movements swirling around him during the early 20th century when he was coming of age and into his career. He paid little attention to any art from the Renaissance forward.

    Mostly a printmaker, he didn't follow the conventional path of collaborating with an atelier and master printer, doing the work himself most of the time. He preferred the company of mathematicians and scientists — and his own complex mind — eventually driving his wife to depression and, finally, flight. ...

    ? 2015 the M.C. Escher Co., the Netherlands. From the collection of the Herakleidon Museum, Athens, Greece.
M.C. Escher, Waterfall, 1961, lithograph
  3. Art Planner: Painted cars in St. Pete, plus a happy 50th to the Museum of Fine Arts

    Visual Arts


    Now in its second year, the painted-car event parks in the plaza at the Duke Energy Center for the Arts, a lovely green space nestled between the Dalí Museum and the Mahaffey Theater on St. Petersburg's downtown waterfront.

    The big draw are the about a dozen cars painted by artists, some of whom will work on site. With the just-launched SHINE Mural Festival, Carmada is a good corollary event, the equivalent of mobile murals. ...

    A photograph of architect Paul Rudolph’s Walker Guest House is part of a new exhibition at the Ringling Museum of Art.
  4. The art of creating craft beer labels

    Bars & Spirits

    Art is everywhere if you pay attention. Perhaps not fine art, but certainly designs that please the eye and spark curiosity. For example: beer labels.

    You probably don't ponder them with the same concentration and gravitas (plus a good dose of wit or humor) as does Geiger Powell. He's the person responsible for the labels on the bottles and cans of the award-winning, super-successful craft beers created by Cigar City Brewing in Tampa. ...

    An assortment of Powell’s custom labels is seen on display in the Cigar City Brewing warehouse.
  5. Art Planner: Graffiti battle at CASS, wildlife photography at Museum of History, deals at TMA

    Visual Arts


    Ward's gorgeous nature photographs, most recently those from the Florida Wildlife Corridor project, will be on view at the St. Petersburg Museum of History (as well as the Dunedin Fine Art Center, noted in last week's planner). The award-winning photographer's passionate advocacy for conservation needs few words; his images are pure eloquence. The 2012 project was a monumental undertaking, a 100-day, 1,000-mile expedition through the last natural path along the length of the Florida peninsula, which begins in the Everglades and ends in southern Georgia. In addition to the photographs, the exhibition features a re-creation of the team campsite with some of the photographer's equipment....

    This image was captured during the 1,000-mile Florida Wildlife Corridor expedition.
  6. See New SHINE Murals on a Saturday Tour

    Visual Arts

    The mural artists have packed up their supplies and now we can see their work in full on a minibus tour Saturday. It's a special one, different from the weekly walking tour of murals in the Central Avenue Arts District.

    This one ranges further to showcase the 14 new works created for the SHINE Mural Festival that have brightened up drab walls further west to the Grand Central Arts District and south into the Warehouse District. So wheels — in this case a minibus — are need to see them all. You'll also get a docent tour along the way....

    The mural on the side of the Amsterdam Bar on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg can now be seen on a minibus mural tour Saturday.
  7. Art Planner: Dunedin Fine Art Center packed, St. Pete murals going up, Silver Meteor Gallery celebrating

    Visual Arts


    You know summer's really over when new art shows start crowding the calendar. At the Dunedin Fine Art Center, 1143 Michigan Blvd., the galleries will be packed with a multitude of artists and photographers. All open on Friday with a reception. Admission is $5. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Free. (727) 298-3322. Here's what you'll find:...

    Eric Orr, Max Robot, mixed media.
  8. Art Planner: New shows in Sarasota and a Chad Mize project at The Bends

    Visual Arts


    So much is happening in the Tampa Bay regional arts scene we forget that farther south, Sarasota remains the matriarch of the arts on Florida's west coast where the Ringling complex of museums and performing arts stages rules.

    Art Center Sarasota might hold smaller sway but it predates the Ringling Museum by five years. Opened in 1926, it was the first arts institution in the city. The organization has occupied its home at 707 N Tamiami Trail for almost 50 years. Like most arts centers, it's member-based and offers classes and exhibition opportunities to them. For the public, the center also has special exhibitions. ...

    Photograph by Steve Cagan for El Ch?co at Art Center Sarasota.
  9. Tampa Bay area art museums offer a rich 2015-16 season

    Visual Arts

    Today we bring you the 13th annual preview of exhibitions at our regional museums. These are shows that make appearances for a limited time, unlike permanent collections that are on view all the time. Each of the museums listed here has a unique mission, and the special exhibitions are designed to reinforce and enhance our appreciation and understanding of that mission.

    This year our museums bring us plenty of variety, since each museum has its own unique mission. We are most fortunate to have such diversity. Our museums are community treasures, and there will be many gems to discover during the coming months....

    Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg: Elizabeth Murray, Kid, 2003, monotype on paper.
  10. SHINE Mural Festival brings new wall art to St. Petersburg

    Visual Arts


    There will be paint. A lot of it.

    The SHINE Mural Festival officially kicks off Tuesday, but you might already notice a small army of artists transforming drab exterior walls into tapestries of color and imagery along the Central Avenue corridor and fanning out north and south at three locations and counting. They will add to a vibrant and growing collection of murals that has enhanced St. Petersburg's image as an artful city....

    Artist Carrie Jadus, 39, of St. Petersburg works on her mural, Resonance, which shows inventor Nikola Tesla, known for his design of the alternating current electrical supply system. The mural is on the east side of GeniusCentral, under construction at 2232 Fifth Ave. S in St. Petersburg.
  11. Art Planner: Fashion meets art in Dunedin, St. Pete; plus cheap family fun at Tampa Museum of Art

    Visual Arts




    Its age has earned it the description "venerable," but Wearable Art 11 at Dunedin Fine Art Center, 1143 Michigan Blvd., Dunedin, on Saturday is anything but. In the past, guests have been treated to couture made with raw meat and pyrotechnics, for example, so each year the bar gets upped a little more, skewing toward decidedly unwearable (for most folks) performance art....

     Steven Kenny’s group of paintings, “Robed in Fable,” is part of Wearable Art 11.
  12. The art of curation: Museum curators talk about what they do

    Visual Arts

    They are a diverse group united by a word: curator. You probably have never met any of them unless you have attended a gallery talk in conjunction with an exhibition. Yet curators, more than any other arts professionals who work at museums, are responsible for what you see and how you see it. • Curators interpret a museum's mission and collection for the viewing public. They organize temporary exhibitions and arrange for traveling shows that enhance or extend the primary mission. They decide how the art will be shown in the galleries. They are active in developing educational and entertainment programming related to the art. They develop relationships with collectors and other institutions for sharing art. They guide the process of acquiring art based on a museum's needs and resources. They, of course, collaborate with other staff members to make these things happen, from the director, the most important community conduit and the one who guides the overall direction, to the professionals who hammer the nails into walls, frame paintings, inventory the art ... and more, myriad vital tasks within the museum. Curators generally coordinate all the moving parts of exhibitions. • In exploring their multiple roles, the Tampa Bay Times has turned to some of the curators of our regional art museums to explain the many ways they perform their jobs, why they chose their line of work and their personal preferences as collectors. Some of their answers in that last area will surprise you....

    From left are University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum curators Peter Foe, Margaret A. Miller, Sarah Howard, Megan Voeller and Noel Marie Smith.
  13. After 70 years of creativity, painter has mastered the art of living

    Human Interest

    If it's retirement, it's a most active one.

    Nearing 90, Janice James still paints with the gusto she brought to her art at the beginning of her career.

    She and her husband, Bill, 88, moved from St. Petersburg to Sun City Center, an age-restricted retirement community in southern Hillsborough County, in 2004, and the idea was to slow down. Judging by her output since then, she has not. ...

    Janice James has been a well-known St. Petersburg artist for decades. She now lives in the Sun City Center retirement community with her husband, Bill, a retired banker. But she hasn’t slowed down.
  14. Art Planner: Professors show off at Ringling, social commentary at HCC Ybor

    Visual Arts




    Teachers deserve all the recognition they can be given. And what better way to acknowledge art teachers, who spend their days nurturing the art of others, than to give them their own show? The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art does just that with "Back and Forth: Thinking in Paint," which showcases works by five faculty members of the College of Fine Arts at Florida State University. (FSU owns the museum, so there is a lot of collaboration, but this one is a first.)...

    Carrie Ann Baade’s Bad Government is on display at the Ringling Museum.
  15. Jerry N. Smith named new chief curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg

    Visual Arts

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, has a new chief curator. Director Kent Lydecker announced that Jerry N. Smith will begin his job as the Hazel and William Hough chief curator Oct. 19.

    The post has been vacant since Jennifer Harden, who had held the job for almost 20 years, resigned in June.

    "Jerry has held leadership positions at the Phoenix Art Museum for more than a decade," Lydecker said. "He has been responsible for all aspects of display, interpretation and acquisitions of works by artists ranging from Leonardo da Vinci to Paul Cézanne to Andy Warhol."...