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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. SHINE Mural Festival in St. Petersburg and its many meanings

    Visual Arts

    ST. PETERSBURG — St. Petersburg recently became more vibrant now that the second SHINE Mural Festival has concluded, adding 21 new murals, four of them created as projects with community participation. Those from the first festival have remained, remarkably, since murals often are short-lived.

    Murals add color, of course, and a level of cool to a city because of their stylistic associations with graffiti, a subversive modern art form. They're fun and photogenic; our mural sites have become selfie ground zeros....

    An auto that says “The Car That’s Art” is parked in front of a creation from Apexer, a.k.a. Ricardo Richey, behind 965 Central Ave.
  2. Art Planner: Free museum admission, Fashion Week art, new shows at Syd Entel, Clayton Galleries

    Visual Arts


    A convergence of two free museum days, one by the Smithsonian and the other by the city of St. Petersburg, means a number will offer free admission Saturday. To find participating museums — and they aren't only art museums — go to and Note that the Dalí Museum is free only to Pinellas County residents....

    A glass culpture by Shane Faro is part of a group show at Syd Ente Galleries and Susan Benjamin Glass.
  3. Dozens of new shows coming to Tampa Bay regional museums

    Visual Arts

    The Tampa Bay Timese_SSRq annual museum exhibition preview is always about the future. And it’s looking excellent for the visual arts and you who enjoy them.

    What you won’t see here, though, are show listings for the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement or the Tom and Mary James Museum of Western Art, both in St. Petersburg. They are, nonetheless, an important part of our future. The former will break ground probably in two to three months and be completed in the fall of 2018. The latter is already under renovation with an opening date set for fall 2017. Each in its own way will further burnish our region’s growing reputation as a center for great art....

    Masterof the Saint Lucy Legend, Mary, Queen of Heaven, ca. 1485-1500, oil on panel from "A Feast for the Senses" at the Ringling Museum of Art.
  4. High-end art prints and more in auction at Burchard Galleries in St. Petersburg this weekend

    Visual Arts

    Have you ever attended an auction? I have, lots of them. Yet never once have I held up my paddle to offer a bid. I think I'm a chicken. Still, I find them fun and interesting and, yes, educational.

    If you're auction-savvy, you probably already know about the Sunday event at Burchard Galleries, 2528 30th Ave. N, St. Petersburg, beginning at noon that features some high-end prints by artists such as Alexander Calder, Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso and Jean Dubuffet along with other objects from the estate of a recently deceased collector. Previews are Saturday from 1 to 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. at Burchard, one of the oldest auction houses in our area. Bear in mind that this is a high-end event that is expected to attract phone and Internet bids from people across the United States, even around the world....

  5. Art Planner: Birthday for Leslie Curran Gallery, art and a party at Epicurean Hotel

    Visual Arts


    Leslie Curran has been a longtime fixture in the Tampa Bay region's art scene with her original ARTicles Gallery and a frame shop on Central Avenue in downtown St. Petersburg. About a year ago, she opened a sleek "white box" gallery, also called ARTicles, at 1431 Central Ave., a few doors down from the flagship.

    Since opening, she has had a distinguished list of exhibiting artists and for this birthday celebration, she features Richard Seidel's figurative paintings and Alison Sigethy's kinetic glass sculptures. The gallery business, however pretty it looks, is a tough business. With a good eye for good art that's also marketable, Curran is well into the game and kudos to her. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Free. (727) 898-8061.

    A painting by Richard Seidel is on view at ARTicles Leslie Curran Gallery for its first-year anniversary show.
  6. Art Planner: New SHINE murals, new art shows in downtown St. Petersburg, Todd Still at Dunedin Fine Arts Center

    Visual Arts


    The St. Petersburg ArtWalk is a monthly event, but Saturday's is probably going to be a standout. It'll have the usual complement of new gallery shows but it also coincides with SPF 16, a monthlong celebration of the arts presented by the Suncoasters of St. Petersburg with support from the city. The biggest event in SPF 16 is the SHINE Mural Festival, and the 21 new murals should be completed by the ArtWalk. The galleries stay open until 9 p.m. So, lots to see and do....

    Todd Still shown on a diving expedition, will discuss his adventures and fascination with superheroes at Dunedin Fine Art Center.
  7. Art planner: Clyde Butcher photos at history center, deal on First Night buttons

    Visual Arts


    Clyde Butcher is a beloved landscape photographer whose work is dual aesthetic and environmental statement. "Preserving Eden: The Florida Photographs of Clyde Butcher" opens Saturday at the Tampa Bay History Center, and much of it, if you're a fan, you have probably already seen.

    I believe art can and should be revisited. You can usually find something new that way, some deeper appreciation....

    One of the panels that make up Embracing Our Differences, a Sarasota event seeking submissions.
  8. St. Pete's big art is back with the 2016 SHINE Mural Festival

    Visual Arts

    John Collins will not have to scramble for a forklift this week and for that, he is thankful.

    Collins, executive director of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, is a key organizer of the 2016 SHINE Mural Festival which kicks off today with 19 professional local, national and international muralists painting the town with 16 works.

    The 2015 SHINE festival was a huge success, but some behind-the-scenes glitches had Collins and artist and SHINE curator Leon Bedore, better known as Tes One, hustling around the various sites resolving misunderstandings (a building's tenant, for example, had given permission to paint a wall but the owner balked) and MIA equipment (the forklift)....

    Mural artist Todd Frain gets his base coat down with the help of Creative Clay client Ali Vasquez on a large mural he's starting at 2914 1st. Ave. N. in St. Petersburg.
  9. 'Phantom Bodies' show at Ringling Museum brings substance to the ephemeral

    Visual Arts


    Though its name might suggest it, don't look for an examination of the paranormal in "Phantom Bodies: The Human Aura in Art" at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

    Yes, it has ghostly images, but they are created by fully disclosed technical processes.

    Instead, look for an examination of the physicality of the human experience and the immutable common denominator we share: Death claims everyone. What do we claim before that?...

    Bill Viola, still from Isolde’s Ascension (The Shape of Light in the Space After Death), 2005, color high-definition on plasma display mounted on wall with stereo sound. Running time: 10:30. Performer: Sarah Steben.
Courtesy of Bill Viola Studio. Copyright Bill Viola Studio. Photo: Kira Perov
  10. Art planner: New work at Florida CraftArt, Dunedin's Wearable Art returns

    Visual Arts




    Curator Jorge Vidal has put together an impressive group of seven artists for "Mind Over Matter," opening Friday at Florida CraftArt. Donna Anderson, Emily Barletta, Martin and Erik Demaine, Jessica Drenk, Christopher Kurtz and Polly Adams Sutton work in traditional craft media such as paper, wood and fiber. Most of the pieces on view are conceptual ideas being realized in humble materials, but some of their work even as a degree of functionality....

    This drawing by Kara Voorhees Reynolds is just one of her drawings on display at Bamboozle Tea Lounge beginning today through Sept. 22.
  11. The origins of red and blue as political colors for Republicans, Democrats

    Visual Arts

    Red. Blue.

    They have many associations, but conjure them right now and electoral maps will probably come to mind. You know, the ones designating Republican and Democratic states.

    The color coding seems obvious. Red and blue are the colors of the American flag, along with white.

    But red and blue, as colors, have a complicated relationship. They, along with yellow, are primary colors from which all others are derived. You see them together on the basic color wheel, neighbors but not necessarily friends. ...

  12. Art planner: 'Extracted' at USFCAM, going vertical at Artlofts, new art at HCC

    Visual Arts


    The Contemporary Art Museum at the University of South Florida can always be counted on to present provocative, thoughtful exhibitions. They're also really interesting. "Extracted," which opens Monday, is the latest. Curator Megan Voeller has selected five artists who address issues of human consumption and how it is changing our world. Their interpretations range from the personal — sculptures Mary Mattingly creates from her own possessions — to the global — Marina Zurkow's examination of petrochemical-containing products in widespread use....

    Emcees for the Wearable Art fashion show are Paul Wilborn and Eugenie Bondurant.
  13. Frida Kahlo show coming to the Dalí Museum in December

    Visual Arts

    Frida Kahlo fans, celebrate.

    The celebrated 20th century Mexican artist will have her first solo exhibition in Florida at the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg beginning Dec. 17. Though numerous works by Kahlo have been exhibited individually, this is the first time in Florida a show has been devoted to her work, according to the museum.

    Co-organized by the Dalí and the Museo Dolores Olmedo in Mexico City, it will feature more than 60 pieces, including paintings and drawings, along with photographs from Kahlo's collection. ...

    Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s work will be on display at the Dal? Museum starting in December.
  14. Review: Boldly conceived folk art on display at Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg

    Visual Arts


    Everyone has an interesting life story, so I believe. But most of those belonging to self-taught artists, sometimes also called folk artists, always seem especially compelling. Reading their brief biographies on wall labels at "From the Heart: Folk Art on Paper" at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg is a moving experience.

    That said, art must stand on its own. The art in this show generally does, not always based on formal technique but on conceptual merits. Their difficult lives inform their art, distilled through a prism of imagination that's based on experience and yet transcends it....

    Thornton Dial, Untitled, drawing on paper.
  15. Art Planner: Cafes with art and a gallery show to beat the heat

    Visual Arts


    I admit it: I have always been a snob about fine art in restaurants. It's bad for the art with all the fumes and people coming and going with no means of mitigating those destructive elements. And how do you really get to see the art when it's hanging over an occupied table? But … I cede the notion after learning of so many cafes and pubs exhibiting art, some with robust sales of it. Unlike the past, in formal restaurants, these venues rotate the art in and out quickly. And if the artists like it and it helps them, then yea! I also see the fun in having a coffee or brew with friends and having cool art to look at while you're there. And maybe those alcoholic beverages loosen the wallet. So have a good time commingling art and recreational eating. ...

    Painting by Lynn Rattray at Bamboozle Tea Lounge in Tampa.