Make us your home page

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: lbennett@tampabay.com

  1. Art Planner: Kristin Beauvois portraits, Dick Jacobs' 'Wonderlust' and a mural festival on the way

    Visual Arts




    After seeing the one shown here that came with a news release, I had to go to Kristin Beauvois' website to see more. They're terrific! These aren't conventional renderings of people. She defines them as abstractions, and indeed, reality is greatly distilled in them. In some ways, they can be related to Frank Auerbach's better-known, wonderful works, though Beauvois uses watercolor and ink, making them softer and more ephemeral. You're invited to a free opening reception at the studio, 620 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg, from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday. Also featured will be collaborative works by Beauvois and artist Tyler Staggs. The show continues through Aug. 28. The studio is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday or Thursday or by appointment. (727) 895-6620. studio620.org....

    Ryan Reynolds, Helen Mirren and Daniel Bruhl in Woman in Gold.
  2. Director tapped for Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement

    Visual Arts

    ST. PETERSBURG — The planned $70 million Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement already has a collection, will soon have a completed parking garage and now is expecting the arrival of its first director.

    Kevin Tucker, senior curator of decorative art and design at the Dallas Museum of Art, has been hired as the museum's director.

    "When considering this most important position, I couldn't think of a more qualified, capable and knowledgeable museum professional to lead this effort," said Rudy Ciccarello, a retired businessman who owns the collection and is building the museum to house it. "His understanding of the Arts and Crafts Movement, the objects and the artists who created them, is exemplary and is based on his 25 years of experience working in the decorative arts field."...

    Kevin Tucker is director of the upcoming Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement.
  3. Review: 'The American Spirit' at Tampa Museum of Art tells its story through art

    Visual Arts


    “The American Spirit: Painting and Sculpture From the Santa Barbara Museum of Art" would be a good standalone exhibition but, lucky visitors, it's but one of two very fine ones now at the Tampa Museum of Art.

    Several weeks ago, I reviewed "In Living Color: Andy Warhol and Contemporary Printmaking," also at the Tampa Museum, which by itself is worth the admission. While the word "bargain" isn't usually associated with museums, you're getting one, especially when you factor in the ever-present antiquities from the permanent collection....

    John George Brown, Pull for the Shore, no date, oil on canvas.
  4. Art Planner: Morean Member's Show, Florida Flavor in Sarasota and art business classes

    Visual Arts


    The Morean Arts Center is almost a centenarian but maintains an ever-lively spring in its step. Much of the energy comes from its ever-evolving membership rolls. Imagine the thousands of individuals who have been involved through the decades, most of them artists, both professionals and amateurs! It opened as the Arts Center in a small downtown St. Petersburg building in 1917 and since 1918 has had an annual Members' Show. It's a way to say thanks for the support and let the collective talent shine. ...

    Jacqueline Roch, Entre Nosotros (Between you and Me) won first place.
  5. Respected photographer Beth Reynolds returns to Tampa Bay area, Morean Arts Center

    Visual Arts

    Beth Reynolds, award-winning photographer, popular instructor and long time area resident who left us to move north several years ago, is returning. Everyone who ever worked with her here is probably doing a happy dance. She'll be director of photography at the Morean Arts Center in downtown St. Petersburg and begins soon. I'm looking forward to a lot of new programs under her creative direction. Welcome home, Beth. ...

    Beth Reynolds, who is the city of Tampa’s photographer laureate.
  6. Art Planner: Cool Art Show, new Cuban paintings, new photography show

    Visual Arts




    There's the obvious reason the big outdoor arts festivals are never in the summer. Duh! But artists, like most of us, don't have the luxury of shutting down through heat, thunder, lightning and rain and thus, the Cool Art Show Saturday and Sunday, the preeminent art show of the summer, which gives area artists a venue for selling their work and us one for buying it in the air-conditioned comfort of the Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. It's smaller than its outdoor cousins, with about 80 artists, but that can be seen as an advantage: You can spend more time seeing everything instead of lurching (as I do anyway) through several hundred booths and not giving all the art its due....

    Ernest C. Simmons, acrylic painting.
  7. Review: Stunning, comprehensive photography survey at Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg

    Visual Arts


    The title is long: "Five Decades of Photography at the Museum of Fine Arts Featuring the Dandrew-Drapkin Collection." So is the exhibition. Monumental in its aspirations, "Five Decades of Photography" delivers the goods through a comprehensive study of the medium in all its forms through almost 300 images, many of them famous examples by famous practitioners. • I don't get emotional about art exhibitions; I'm paid to be analytical. I was moved by this one, not because of its scope but because it was put together entirely from the museum's permanent collection. Not a single loan and no need for one. That is such a rarity....

    Andr? K?rtesz, Satiric Dancer, Paris, 1926, gelatin silver print.
  8. Art Planner: Chihuly Collection, Art Walk and new shows

    Visual Arts



    Five years ago, a beautiful gem of a gallery opened at 400 Beach Drive NE in downtown St. Petersburg, featuring the colorful installations of world-famous glass artist Dale Chihuly. A hot shop at the Morean Arts Center, southwest of the gallery at 719 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, opened to educate visitors about the process of glassblowing, even offering participatory classes....

    Paul Carder, director of marketing and communications for the Chihuly Collection, left, Kathy Joseph, of Utica, New York and Ron Menezes of St. Petersburg walk through the Chihuly Collection on in 2010.
  9. 'In Living Color' show featuring Warhol at Tampa Museum of Art a 'rare treat'

    Visual Arts


    He may have top billing in "In Living Color: Andy Warhol and Contemporary Printmaking from the Collections of Jordan Schnitzer and His Family Foundation," but this excellent exhibition isn't exclusively Warhol or Pop Art. Warhol deserves the recognition, though, because of the 116 works, 50 are his and he is by the far the most famous of the group.

    Know that the 17 other artists represented also are big names in the art world and contribute greatly to the discussion....

    Andy Warhol, image from the Mao series, 1972, screen print, published by Castelli Graphics and Multiples
  10. Art Planner: Summer shows at the Polk Museum, Clayton Galleries and the Chihuly Collection

    Visual Arts


    For centuries, collecting art was a pastime only for the wealthy (including the wealthy church), but with the rise of the middle class in the mid 19th century, it became an aspiration many more could afford. Travel, too, became available on a broader scale because of the convenience of expanded railroad destinations. As travelers saw more of the world, or at least became arm-chair travelers, they wanted reminders of it, so among the favorite subjects in paintings were bucolic landscapes and exotic locales....

    Louis Aston Knight, Path Along a River, ca. 1920, oil on canvas.
  11. A personal thank you, farewell to Museum of Fine Arts curator Jennifer Hardin

    Visual Arts

    The Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg has always been a special place. But without equivocation, I say it's a better place today because of many individuals' hard work and generosity that have allowed it to grow. One of the most important architects of that growth — in its all-important permanent collection — is Jennifer Hardin, the Hazel and William Hough chief curator.

    Museum director Kent Lydecker recently announced, "with sincere regret," Hardin's resignation after 20 years on the job. I will miss her. But I'm grateful for all she has accomplished and, in the process, the ways she has benefited the community through her work. I want to honor her in this farewell column....

    Jennifer Hardin and Emmanuel Roux have lived in their Driftwood home in St. Petersburg for almost 20 years.
  12. Preview: Puppets old and new, from near and far, for young and old, on display at Florida CraftArt

    Visual Arts

    We think of puppets as playthings for children, but they have a history thousands of years old as adult entertainment. Almost every culture in the world has deployed them in some form from European hand puppets to Asian shadow puppets. A new exhibition at Florida CraftArt, 501 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, which opens Friday and continues through Aug. 15, will stretch the definition we have of them....

  13. Don Featherstone, the reason you'll never picture Florida without pink flamingos, dies at 79


    They are the birds of a Featherstone that became kitsch history. One Donald Featherstone, to be precise, who invented the plastic lawn flamingo in 1957. Mr. Featherstone has died at 79, leaving behind one of the most memorable homages to one of nature's most memorable animals.

    Floridians are possessive about plastic flamingos, believing they are unique to our peninsula, but in truth they have been sold by the millions nationwide. Madison, Wis., to the far north, designated the plastic pink flamingo its official city bird in 2009. It's probably the only lawn ornament to achieve such status....

    Don Featherstone, surrounded by his creatures in 1998, died on Monday in Fitchburg, Mass. He was 79.
  14. Major photo survey opening at Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg

    Visual Arts

    Summer shows at regional museums used to be small and quiet, a time to rotate works from a permanent collection into or out of storage or organize a middling show that wouldn't cost much. It reflected a drop in attendance as residents took vacations and tourists stayed away.

    Population migration trends seem to have changed and so have museums' exhibition schedules. For several years, we have seen truly important exhibitions scheduled at this time of year and the new crop is no exception. ...

    Timothy O’Sullivan, Shoshone Falls, Snake River, Idaho, 1874, albumen print.
  15. Award-winning Tampa photographer Bud Lee dies at 74


    Bud Lee's career as an award-winning photographer took him around the world and into the presence of celebrities and world events. Just as much as for his great images, he will be remembered for the antic creativity, talent and energy to create an arts scene in Tampa both bohemian and purposeful that resonates today.

    Mr. Lee, self-described "picture maker," died Thursday at a nursing home in Plant City. He was 74. ...

    Early in his career, Bud Lee was a sought-after freelancer. His work included this undated photo of Clint Eastwood.