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

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  1. MFA's 'Monet to Matisse' show to include a dozen masterworks

    Visual Arts

    ST. PETERSBURG — To celebrate its 50th anniversary, only the best will do for the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg.

    Of the 25 or more works by Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and others coming to an impressive exhibit in February, at least a dozen are considered masterworks.

    And there could be even more masterworks — meaning they are considered among the finest works by an artist — coming to "Monet to Matisse: On the French Coast," said Kent Lydecker, the museum's director. More artwork loans are still being negotiated. ...

    From the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg
Alfred Stevens (1823-1906), Woman by the Sea, Le Puysa, 1893, oil on canvas
  2. Museum preview 2014-2015: Exhibits of Picasso, Monet, Matisse coming to Tampa Bay

    Visual Arts

    BY LENNIE BENNETT Times Art Critic

    So much has changed since I became the Tampa Bay Times art critic more than a decade ago and began the annual museum exhibition preview. In the early days, important exhibitions were scheduled in the "season" between fall and spring. Summer was a slow time with small shows, usually using permanent collections. No more. The 2013-14 period was a watershed for west-central Florida with museums giving us major shows year-round....

    From “Henry and Abe: Finding America” at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art: Abraham Rattner, Henry Miller #1, 1940, oil on canvas.
  3. Discovery of Florida exhibit opens at St. Petersburg Museum of History

    Visual Arts

    “Imagining La Florida" at the St. Petersburg Museum of History is a history exhibit, but it has enough lovely visual components to make it a good-looker, along with its educational priorities and interactive elements.

    It's a familiar story, told well. It begins in 16th century Spain, which was aggressively pursuing expansion in the New World and focusing on the exploration of Florida by conquistador Juan Ponce de León, who named it La Florida because of its lushness and to acknowledge his landing during the Easter season. (He has often been credited with being the first European to land on what is now the continental United States, but many historians believe salvagers had been here often long before.)...

    Conquistador Juan Ponce de León named this land La Florida because of its lushness and to acknowledge his landing during the Easter season. 
  4. Gallery 1356 opens in Clearwater

    Visual Arts

    Let's welcome a new arts venue to Clearwater! Gallery 1356 opens Sept. 18 with a free reception from 6 to 9 p.m. The gallery at 1356 S Fort Harrison Ave. features sculptures by its owner, J. Harrison Smith (whose work is shown), plus works in other media, including painting, by June Harben, Lisbeth Graham, Sylvia Shanahan and Liz Smith. (It's also a working studio for several artists.) Regular gallery hours will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays. jharrisonsmith.sculpture@gmail.com or (727) 458-4206....

    J. Harrison Smith, owner of Gallery 1356, created this sculpture.
  5. Artist will not show hacked naked celeb photos after all

    Visual Arts

    Simmer down, everyone.

    An exhibit of enlarged prints of hacked photographs of Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton that was scheduled to debut at a St. Petersburg art gallery in October will not go on view.

    Since Cory Allen, owner of Cory Allen Contemporary Art, announced the show about a week ago, he and artist XVALA have received international media attention and a withering barrage of protests and criticism. But Allen said in a news release that the cancellation came because of several organized petition efforts. ...

    Los Angeles artist XVALA. Photo credit: Cory Allen Contemporary Art
  6. St. Petersburg's ArtWalk expands to the beach

    Visual Arts

    The Second Saturday ArtWalk in St. Petersburg is expanding its boundaries this week as it continues to pick up steam, especially now that fall is upon us. I know: it seems like a cruel joke of the calendar as our air conditioners crank away, but arts venues are beginning to roll our their new shows. (One that has my particular attention is a group exhibit by EyeSplice Collective at the Morean Arts Center. Stay tuned for more on it.)...

    Image from Duncan McClellan
  7. St. Petersburg art show to feature hacked nude celebrity photos

    Visual Arts

    St. Petersburg is getting national attention for an art exhibition planned to open Oct. 30 — and it won't feature the Old Masters.

    Cory Allen Contemporary Art, a new gallery in the Warehouse Arts District at 2121 Second Ave. S, has announced plans for a show featuring Los Angeles artist XVALA 's prints on canvas of recently hacked nude photographs of Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence and actor-model Kate Upton, among others. The show will likely contain 20 to 24 works....

    The prints that the St. Petersburg gallery plans to exhibit in October are part of an ongoing series titled “Fear Google” by Los Angeles artist XVALA.
  8. Graffiti muralists featured at Tampa art gallery

    Visual Arts

    If the graffiti world isn't the boys' club it once was, we can look to women like Allison Torneros for being part of that change.

    Hueman is her art moniker; under that name she has become a very successful muralist with commissions from national companies, including Nike. Her work and that of Rene Gagnon, Mateu Velasco, Rodrigo Valles and Natalia Rak will be featured in "Outsiders: From Street to Canvas" at the Contemporary Art Space and Studio, 2722 S MacDill Ave., Tampa....

    Rene Gagnon, another of the exhibit’s featured artists, works on a mural.
  9. See some of the area's biggest art shows before they move on

    Visual Arts

    Summer has been, by tradition, a slow time for area museums because the heat and humidity have kept many residents and tourists away. Times have changed, and with them, we have seen ambitious and important exhibitions become the summer norm instead of the exception in many of them. So before they leave in a month or two, we're revisiting a few, encouraging those who haven't seen them to go — and those who have to consider seeing them again. They're worth second looks. ...

    The work of George Inness Jr. is featured in “An Arts Legacy: George Inness Jr. In Tarpon Springs,” which closes Aug. 31 at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art. Inness spent winters in Tarpon Springs.
  10. Step into the Airstream to check out art

    Visual Arts

    Photographers Matt and Rebecca Sexton Larson don't stay still for long ever since they launched Boxfoto, a movable concept to create, show and sell their work. The husband and wife roll all over the place in their nifty Airstream, outfitted as a mobile studio and display center for their own work and that of people who enroll in their photography classes. But a collection of their photographs has settled temporarily at the Visual Arts Gallery at Hillsborough Community College's Ybor campus at Palm Avenue and 15th Street, Tampa. They work independently but both specialize in historic photographic processes such as tintype, bromoil and cyanotype. In addition to prints on the gallery walls, a few of the charming pinhole cameras Rebecca Larson makes from almost anything (martini shaker, cigar box, paper cups, for example) will also be on view. ...

    Rebecca Sexton Larson, Drifting, 2014, bromoil print.
  11. Extended Members' Show closing at Morean

    Visual Arts

    Friday is absolutely, positively the last day to see the popular Members' Show at the Morean Arts Center, 719 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. It was scheduled to close earlier in August but was extended. Shown is Steven Kenny's oil painting, St. Petersburg Alley #5. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Free. moreanartscenter.org or (727) 822-7872.

    Image from the Morean Arts Center...

    Steven Kenny, St. Petersburg Alley #5, oil on panel.
  12. Review: Thomas Chimes' eclectic art intrigues at Ringling

    Visual Arts

    SARASOTA

    Thomas Chimes could have been part of the fraternity known as the abstract expressionists with distinguished members such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Barnett Newman. But he was only in his early 30s in the 1950s when that New York art movement was in full flower and probably felt he had nothing new to add to it.

    So he formed a society of one and created art that interested him. If the works on view at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art are representative of his career, he's impossible to categorize. A vibrantly colored, enigmatic mural, Dada-esque metal sculptures and Old-Master influenced panel portraits of famous people he admired all come from the same hand. ...

    Thomas Chimes, Self Portrait, 1947, oil on masonite on panel.
  13. 10th Wearable Art Fashion Show is at Dunedin Fine Art Center

    Visual Arts

    A 10-year mark for an event makes it eligible for the tag "venerable," so the 10th annual Wearable Art Fashion Show on Saturday at the Dunedin Fine Art Center could indeed be considered venerable. But that's such a stately word for a show that remains fresh and fun and wears its decade lightly.

    In a new format, runway models will be young professionals from around the Tampa Bay area who are collaborating with designers. This will be interesting since some of the fashions in the past have often been, let's say, over the top. (Raw meat, anyone?)...

    Julian Hartzog came up with this little number.
  14. Slow down and take a look at the art in Tampa's airport

    Visual Arts

    There are some new bright spots at Tampa International Airport: paintings by Neverne Covington, seated here in front of them where they hang on a wall of the main terminal on the walkway to the Marriott Hotel. This is a good opportunity to remind ourselves that the airport is full of lively art. True, a lot of it is in airside areas open only to ticket holders. But the next time you fly, slow down and take some moments to pause before the art you're about to hurry by. And spend time with art in other airports, too. Good for layovers....

    Neverne Covington with her paintings at Tampa International Airport.
  15. Video: Balloon sculpture at Museum of Fine Arts will blow you away

    Visual Arts

    If you've ever been impressed by a balloon animal, prepare to be blown away by a new art exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg made up entirely of balloons.

    Artist Jason Hackenwerth worked all day Monday to install a sculpture consisting of thousands of interwoven latex balloons that create a massive aqua-marine form titled Fleeting Innocence that will hang from the ceiling of the Conservatory at the museum. The art is expected to remain up for a couple of weeks. ...

    Artist Jason Hackenwerth lives in New York City. DIRK SHADD   |   Times