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. 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. ...

    Artist Sun Xun paints detail into the installation in a gallery at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg. The piece is part of “My Generation: Young Chinese Artists,” an exhibit taking place at the Museum of Fine arts as well as at the Tampa Museum of Art through Sept. 28.
  2. 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. ...

    Matt Larson, Blue Ridge Parkway, 2014, salt print.
  3. 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.
  4. Review: Thomas Chimes' eclectic art intrigues at Ringling

    Visual Arts


    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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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. ...

    Balloons rise against the windows in the Conservatory. DIRK SHADD   |   Times  

  8. Review: Michelangelo's life framed in 'Six Masterpieces'


    Michelangelo Buonarroti was, despite his first name, no angel. He was intensely, ungraciously competitive, overly sensitive to any behavior he considered a slight, and his loyalties and allegiance generally swung with the political winds. He left many projects unfinished to the dismay and anger of his patrons because he would lose interest when presented with a new challenge. His brilliance superseded those personality traits for many of the wealthy and powerful who coveted his art, and he did more than any other artist of his time to shift the perception of an artist as a gifted servant to one who was a superior individual because of those gifts. ...

  9. Review: Biography illuminates, but 'Mona Lisa' still an enigma


    The woman with the famously mysterious smile has herself been a mystery for centuries. In Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered, Dianne Hales doesn't discover much about the subject of the most famous painting in the world that we don't already know, but she does put Lisa del Giocondo's life in credible context, bulking up the scant verifiable details with the social and political history of her times and weaving into the book a parallel biography of the life of Leonardo da Vinci, who immortalized her....

  10. New walking tour shows off St. Petersburg's many murals

    Visual Arts

    Anyone passing through the Central Arts District in downtown St. Petersburg can't help but notice that as much seems to happen on the outside of its buildings as on the inside, thanks to an aggressive mural program washing the exteriors in vibrant images by many artists in many styles.

    Just six blocks long, the district, running along Third and Ninth streets between First Avenue N and S, is home to an astonishing 25 murals and counting. ...

    This mural, painted by Sebastian Coolidge, is on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg. The Central Arts District has 25 murals.
  11. Found objects turn into sculpture, at Tuegel gallery

    Visual Arts

    Rocky Bridges is essentially a sculptor, creating framed assemblages from found objects that are both lyrical and edgy. In a new collection, he dispenses with the wall and makes them freestanding. Shown is The Space Between Lovers 2. See them at Michele Tuegel Contemporary Art, 320 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, through Aug. 29. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Free. mtcontempo.com or (727) 823-1100....

    Rocky Bridges, The Space Between Two Lovers II.
  12. Get first look at future arts compound in St. Petersburg

    Visual Arts

    Now that the Warehouse Arts District Association group in St. Petersburg has signed a contract to purchase the former Ace Recycling compound, they would love for everyone to come and see it and its potential. And they would also like to raise money toward the purchase.

    To those ends, you're invited to "Envision the Enclave," a tour and fundraiser, Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. at 515 22nd St. S, St. Petersburg. It's free but donations are nice. For sale will be sandwiches and hot dogs from CA Cafe and cold beer from 3 Daughters Brewery. Artists will be on hand to do quick portraits and live music will add to the festivities....

    Warehouse Arts District Association president Mark Aeling poses in front of the old Ace Recycling complex the group is buying.
  13. 'Hot Summer Show II' at Clayton Galleries

    Visual Arts

    You'll also see a lot of variety at Clayton Galleries, 4105 S MacDill Ave., Tampa, in its annual "Hot Summer Show II." Owner Cathy Clayton divides into three groups the considerable number of artists she represents and arranges three shows around them. This is No. 2, which continues through Aug. 23. No. 3 is Aug. 26 through Sept. 27. I like them all because I like so many of her artists, including Bruce Marsh, whose work is shown here. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. claytongalleries.net; (813) 831-3753. Lennie Bennett, Times art critic ...

    Bruce Marsh, River Strips
  14. 'Drawn From Nature' landscape show at Allyn Gallup gallery

    Visual Arts

    Landscapes are a beloved genre open to all kinds of interpretations and individual styles. "Drawn From Nature" at Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art, 1288 N Palm Ave., Sarasota, gives viewers a lot of variety in presenting work by nine artists. Compare Jean Blackburn's treatment of water as both gorgeously reflective and transparent, Michele Harvey's opaque meadow mist overtaking trees, and Heidi Edwards' abstract-leaning, improbably yellow marsh, shown here, all landscapes but so different in technique and intent. Also in the exhibition are Deborah Brown, Joyce Ely-Walker, Nancy Hellebrand, Susan Klein, Andrew Kuziak and William Nichols. "Drawn From Nature" continues through Oct. 25. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Free. allyngallup.com or (941) 366-2454....

    Heidi Edwards, Yellow Marsh
  15. A river runs through teen art project

    Visual Arts

    The Community Stepping Stones serves at-risk teens and, for a recent project, tapped into both science and art. Teens studied and canoed the entire Hillsborough River over several trips. They also applied what they learned to a variety of artistic mediums such as ceramics, painting, drama and photography. You see examples here. See all the work at "I Am River," on view at the Art Gallery at Hillsborough Community College's Ybor campus, Palm Avenue and 15th Street, Tampa. Stop by from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday for a free reception featuring a dramatic performance at 6 p.m. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; and noon to 7 p.m. Tuesday. Free. (813) 253-7674....

    At-risk teens in the Community Stepping Stones program took photos and produced art for the “I Am River” show.