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. 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.
  2. Playful design for musical instrument show at Florida Craftsmen

    Visual Arts

    Musical instruments are utilitarian, built for performance. In the hands of master craftsmen, they can also be things of beauty, so much so that many non-musicians collect them for their looks, not their sound.

    "Fine Tuned: A Fresh Take on Musical Instruments" at Florida Craftsmen, 501 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, presents a group of handmade ones along with whimsically repurposed and embellished examples. A group of 13 violins is used by artists as starting points for sculptural transformations that are in a silent auction to benefit the Suzuki Program at the Canterbury School in St. Petersburg. (They were ordered by the school but were too large for the students so …) View them online at floridacraftsmen.net and make a bid, which can also be made by phone. The auction continues through the show's duration, Aug. 23. ...

    A violin embellished with carvings by Mark Noll
  3. Review: Panama Canal photos at MFA, St. Petersburg document amazing accomplishment

    Visual Arts

    ST. PETERSBURG

    The big summer show at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg is "My Generation: Young Chinese Artists," which is spectacular. There are other visual pleasure to be had there, too, such as the museum's permanent collection. Hanging out in the second-floor gallery devoted to works on paper is a group of 60 photographs documenting one of the most wondrous accomplishments of the early 20th century, the building of the Panama Canal on the narrowest stretch on land in Central America....

    The Gatun spillway dam’s gates being tested on Dec. 27, 1913.
  4. Review: Richard Beckman's work at USF Contemporary Art Museum celebrates what was

    Visual Arts

    TAMPA

    We see only a few pages from one of sculptor Richard Beckman's journals, opened in a Plexiglas case for "Outside the Curve of Reason," an exhibition at University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum. Yet they tell us much about Beckman's restless, relentless and obsessive creativity.

    He sketches an idea, then, in a hurried handwriting, breaks down the issues and challenges in making it real. He explores different iterations of the visual idea. As a nearby TV monitor scrolls through photographs of his sculptures in galleries, and of him working in his studio (these are still photos, not video), we see that, yes, he did resolve the problems in the sketch as we look at the actual work. ...

    A case holds small models, called maquettes, of Beckman’s sculptures. Above it are drawings he created to explore forms.
  5. Exhibit shows off works of one teacher's nine student artists

    Visual Arts

    Student works

    Rose Marie Prins is a much-admired professional artist and it's no surprise that she's also a good teacher. Paintings by nine of her students at the Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg are on view at Gallery 221 at Hillsborough Community College's Dale Mabry campus, 4001 W Tampa Bay Blvd., Tampa, through July 31. Shown is a detail of a painting by Colette Bancroft, books editor of the Tampa Bay Times and a talented (and humble) artist. Hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday (strange hours, yes, but the gallery is in the library). Free. hccfl.edu/gallery221 or (813) 253-7386....

    detail of a painting of an artichoke by Colette Bancroft at Gallery 221 at Hillsborough Community College's Dale Mabry campus.
credit: Gallery 221
  6. Nuance Galleries opens show of 15 Cuban artists

    Visual Arts

    In 2013, Robert Rowen of Nuance Galleries, 804 S Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, purchased a collection of several hundred works by 20th century Cuban artists. The art had previously been lent by a collector to the Meridian International Center, which works with the State Department on cultural exchanges and traveling exhibitions. • Because the collection is so large and varied, Rowen can't exhibit much of it at one time, so he periodically pulls a selection together for a show. • All of the artists are from Oriente, Cuba's historic area on the eastern part of the island. It's one of the earliest Cuban settlements, with its capital, Santiago de Cuba, founded in 1514. The 15 artists in the collection range in age from their 40s to their 90s. One has died, and several have had to leave Cuba. Most focus on their country and issues they have with it. They tend toward realism rather than conceptual approaches, though they take great latitude with it, as you can see in the two examples shown. • The exhibition continues through Sept. 1. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Free. nuancegalleries.com or (813) 875-0511....

    Jose Juliun Aguilera Vicente’s  woodblock print uses a straightforward approach in portraying life in a poor neighborhood.
  7. New arts complex on horizon for St. Petersburg

    Visual Arts

    ST. PETERSBURG — The city's Warehouse Arts District already houses a high-density collection of artists' studios. Now, a plan for a multipurpose arts complex is both the most ambitious and creative in an area known for both.

    The newly proposed Warehouse Arts Enclave aspires to provide both affordable space for artists and additional facilities that would raise even higher St. Petersburg's profile as an arts-centric city. ...

    Warehouse District Association President Mark Aeling said potential donors for the project are “lining up.”
  8. Free Cool Art Show brings media mix to St. Petersburg's Coliseum

    Visual Arts

    Outdoor art shows go on hiatus in these parts for good reason. It. Is. Hot. But the Cool Art Show is celebrating its 26th year Saturday and Sunday because it beats the heat by going inside to the air-conditioned Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. The show, organized by the Professional Association of Visual Artists, is smaller than the outdoor versions, with about 80 artists instead of upwards of several hundred, but the full media mix is here, with paintings, prints, ceramics, glass, wood, metal, photography and jewelry. It's worth pointing out that five of the exhibiting artists won awards at the Mainsail Arts Festival in April: Dave Bruner, John Kellum, John Mascoll, Ernie Simmons and Ana Varela. Admission is free, and food and beverages are available for sale. pavaartists.org....

    
  9. Tampa Bay History Center displays 'Art of the Highwaymen'

    Visual Arts

    The Highwaymen are a beloved and legendary institution in the United States, especially in Florida where their movement originated. As you probably know, they were a band of 25 men and one woman who were mostly self-taught artists, though they didn't have an "outsider style" but rather a romantic-realism form of landscape art. They sold their works door to door or on roadsides because, being black, traditional galleries wouldn't represent them during the Jim Crow years of segregation of the 1950s. ...

    Highwaymen painting by Robert Butler
  10. Avant-garde Trashion Fashion Show features recycled items

    Visual Arts

    It began small six years ago because the ARTpool Gallery space was small. Now, the annual Trashion Fashion Show, which is Saturday, has become big, just like ARTpool since its move from a sliver of a building to its current huge digs in a former industrial space at 2030 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg. It mostly features, as you would assume, materials and items that are recycled or repurposed — sort of like a lot of ARTpool itself, which sells lots of vintage in addition to being an art gallery for contemporary artists. ...

    Trashion looks designed by Neva Durham for Art Pool
  11. Review: Word to the wise: Dunedin Fine Art Center holds summer intrigue

    Visual Arts

    DUNEDIN

    The Dunedin Fine Art Center is having a fine summer. The lobby has a brighter, airier feel after a renovation opened it up, new classrooms accommodate ever-growing demand, the cafe has been enlarged, and a gallery has been added to the existing four (though one still seems like a multitasking hall). And new space for the David L. Mason Children's Hands-On Museum was also added. A new gift shop opens on Monday....

    Mernet Larsen, Reunion, acrylic on canvas, from “The Poetics of Space.”
  12. ArtWalk patrons will enjoy galleries galore and a full moon

    Visual Arts

    A full moon will shine down on the Second Saturday ArtWalk in St. Petersburg. At least it will near the end at 9 p.m.

    But the sun will shine first as more than 40 galleries and studios keep their doors open late to showcase and sell just about any type of art. ArtWalk sprawls through five arts districts: the Waterfront, Central, Edge, Grand Central and Warehouse. Some venues will have demonstrations, and some are open only for the event. Trolleys and shuttles (the shuttles also have art guides) cover all of the districts. All are free except for the Central Avenue Trolley, which charges 50 cents. Parking is also available in all areas. Cool restaurants and craft breweries dot the neighborhoods, too, so the party doesn't have to end early....

    About 100 people gathered recently on the lawn in front of the Dalí Museum to see an audiovisual installation.
  13. Enjoy a summer getaway through art at Sarasota gallery

    Visual Arts

    Dabbert Gallery, 76 S Palm Ave., Sarasota, presents its annual summer show with a cast of artists from far-flung places such as Southern California; Sydney, Australia; and Prince Edward Island, Canada (coincidentally, nice places to go for a summer vacation). Media include paintings, prints and sculpture. Shown, Dog Day Afternoon, an oil painting by Tom Swimm. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Free. dabbertgallery.com or (941) 955-1315. ...

    "Evening Calm Siesta Beach" by William Suys, oil on canvas, framed 34" x 46"
  14. Polk Museum of Art puts Florida landscape photos on exhibit

    Visual Arts

    Another exhibition of photography to consider is "Terra Incognita: Photographs of America's Third Coast" at the Polk Museum of Art, 800 E Palmetto St., Lakeland. Richard Sexton created a portfolio of the Gulf Coast over a 15-year period. In the 57 photographs on view, we see marshes, scrubland, forests, beaches and swamps in black and white, which contributes to their visual lyricism. It continues through Sept. 13. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is $5 adults, $4 seniors and free for children and students with ID. polkmuseumofart.org or (863) 688-7743....

    Richard Sexton, Ascension, quadtone pigment print.
  15. Florida Museum of Photographic Arts has diverse exhibit

    Visual Arts

    The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts doesn't have a large permanent collection, only about 150 works, but what it has it uses well. "Portraits and Places" is a selection of 25, about half in black-and-white and half in color. It extends from the Burgert Brothers' photographs of early Tampa through contemporary photographers, including current and former staff of the Tampa Bay Times. Don't expect to find a common thread in this show, as we see in most museum exhibitions. It's a diverse group from many points of view and intentions that includes fine art photography and photojournalism. ...

    William G. Carson won best in show and members’ choice awards for Timeless in the 14th annual members show.