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. Florida Craftsmen reopens as Florida CraftArt on Thursday

    Visual Arts

    It doesn't look like much in this photo but when it opens today, the newly renovated Florida Craftsmen Gallery will boast a lot more space for showcasing fine crafts made by Florida artists, just in time for holiday shopping. It also boasts a new name: Florida CraftArt. Stop in for a look. It's on Central Avenue at Fifth Street, St. Petersburg, and hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. A free reception from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 7 is also the opening of the annual holiday show. floridacraftsmen.net or (727) 821-7391....

    Having undergone renovations over the summer, Florida CraftArt is the new name of the former Craftsmen Gallery.
  2. John Mellencamp paintings on display in DeLand

    Visual Arts

    Creativity rarely is compartmentalized. It crosses borders physical and metaphorical. Creative people are usually creative multitaskers.

    John Mellencamp, for example.

    He is, and always will be, esteemed, rich and famous for his songwriting and musicianship.

    He's lots of other things, too, but in this context we'll talk about John Mellencamp, visual artist, because 50 new paintings and mixed media works are on view at the Museum of Art — DeLand through Dec. 28. ...

    Photo by Joseph 
P. Rudinec
  3. Kokol Arts reception features Roy Lerner workshop painters

    Visual Arts

    It has been a busy week at Kokol Arts Studio and Gallery, 3318 Bay to Bay Blvd., Tampa. New York-based abstract artist Roy Lerner has conducted a five-day workshop with area painters and the results of their work will be on view during a one-night-only reception at the gallery on Saturday from 5 to 9 p.m. Lerner has built his reputation on his advancement of techniques using acrylics for his abstract paintings. He works in an intuitive way, building layers of colors, often using thick coats of paint applied with palette knives. The workshop participants won't mimic his style but collaborate. Along with their work, Lerner will exhibit several of his own paintings. The reception is free with complimentary valet parking. Shown is Lerner's Bell Bottom Blues. ...

    Roy Lerner, Bell Bottom Blues, Acrylic
  4. Morse Museum features collection never displayed before

    Visual Arts

    If you have visited the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park, you know it has a swoon-worthy collection of late 19th and early 20th century decorative arts, made swoonier with its holdings by Louis Comfort Tiffany, the most comprehensive in the world. If you haven't visited, you really would enjoy the museum.

    Either way, here's added incentive: "Revival and Reform: Eclecticism in the 19th-Century Environment." It's a new exhibition opening Tuesday that features leaded glass, art glass, pottery and furniture from the permanent collection, some of it never displayed before. The centerpiece will be The Arts, a window 8 feet in diameter in the neoclassical style by Lamb Studios, an important creator of glass objects. ...

    The Arts is a window 8 feet in diameter in neoclassical style by Lamb Studios.
  5. Chihuly Collection adds new, diverse glass selections

    Visual Arts


    Studio glass has many permutations, as we have seen over the years in group shows of the medium in museums and galleries. Yet the constant presence of the Chihuly Collection featuring the dramatic, permanent installations of international art star Dale Chihuly perhaps blunts, in our minds, the variety of interpretations that can be brought to glass.

    Remedying that is an 800-square-foot space in the collection's home in downtown St. Petersburg to showcase other fine glass artists who seek different results from the material. It was created when the areas used for guest services and a small shop were reconfigured for special exhibitions within the permanent gallery space, and a spacious, free-standing store that opens directly onto Beach Drive....

    Kait Rhoads’ Bloom is composed of four wall panels with different color layers.
  6. Exhibits on Renoir, Chagall, Wyeth open on big arts weekend

    Visual Arts

    A crowded arts calendar continues!

    Three museum exhibitions debut in the coming days and we see the return of the annual Graphicstudio sale. Also, the monthly Second Saturday ArtWalk is coming up. Strategic planning means you don't have to miss any of them since the museum shows continue into January.



    Renoir to Chagall: Paris and the Allure of Color...

    Claude Monet, Port of Dieppe, Evening, 1882, oil on canvas, is part of “Renoir to Chagall: 
Paris and the Allure of Color,” a new show at the Tampa Museum of Art.
  7. Make time for these can't-miss art events in Tampa Bay

    Visual Arts

    Arts people, the coming two weeks will be the most packed with things to do and see in my memory: five new exhibitions and several events that range from north Tampa through Pinellas County. Here's what's happening in the next week. Look for more in the Oct. 9 issue of Weekend. You can also find it all at tampabay.com/things-to-do.

    Lennie Bennett, Times art critic

    Kait Rhoads at the Chihuly Collection...

    Blue Dome, single strength plate glass, cut, drilled and fired with glass enamels, then hung by steel wire onto a steel form, 1995. Entry is encouraged.
  8. 'Eyesplice Collective' at Morean features 12 emerging female artists

    Visual Arts

    The term "emerging artist" is perplexing. It implies youthful talent that is still developing and the absence of significant professional exposure. Given the number of exhibitions I've seen featuring emerging artists, I find the label all over the map and misleading. After all, talent should never cease developing and recognition and exposure can be arbitrary.

    "Eyesplice Collective: Spatial Disruption" at the Morean Arts Center is billed as a group of emerging artists, and I'll go with it, adding the caveat that many of these artists (all female) have impressive exhibition histories and some of their works are in significant public collections. ...

    Maria Raquel Cochez’s 30-minute video for Lazy Girl No. 6, 2011, explores obesity as a woman eats a gallon of Edy’s Cookies ’n Cream ice cream with a fork.
  9. 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
  10. 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 “Monet to Matisse” at Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg: Henri Matisse, Girl by a Window, 1921, oil on canvas. Gift of Alice Albright Arlen, in honor of her mother, Josephine Patterson Albright, 1994.
  11. 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.)...

    This cross-section drawing offers a detailed view of a Spanish galleon. Explorers used ships like this to cross the Atlantic Ocean during the 16th century.
  12. 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.
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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....

    Actor Jennifer Lawrence is one of many celebrities whose nude photos of themselves were accessed by a hacker.