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


  1. Art show: New work at Florida CraftArt, Dunedin's Wearable Art returns

    Visual Arts


    Curator Jorge Vidal has put together an impressive group of seven artists for "Mind Over Matter," opening Friday at Florida CraftArt. Donna Anderson, Emily Barletta, Martin and Erik Demaine, Jessica Drenk, Christopher Kurtz and Polly Adams Sutton work in traditional craft media such as paper, wood and fiber. Most of the pieces on view are conceptual ideas being realized in humble materials, but some of their work even as a degree of functionality. ...

    Jerry Uelsmann’s Home is a Memory is one of three pieces being considered for the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts’ collection at a 6 p.m. event today.
  2. The origins of red and blue as political colors for Republicans, Democrats

    Visual Arts

    Red. Blue.

    They have many associations, but conjure them right now and electoral maps will probably come to mind. You know, the ones designating Republican and Democratic states.

    The color coding seems obvious. Red and blue are the colors of the American flag, along with white.

    But red and blue, as colors, have a complicated relationship. They, along with yellow, are primary colors from which all others are derived. You see them together on the basic color wheel, neighbors but not necessarily friends. ...

  3. Art planner: 'Extracted' at USFCAM, going vertical at Artlofts, new art at HCC

    Visual Arts


    The Contemporary Art Museum at the University of South Florida can always be counted on to present provocative, thoughtful exhibitions. They're also really interesting. "Extracted," which opens Monday, is the latest. Curator Megan Voeller has selected five artists who address issues of human consumption and how it is changing our world. Their interpretations range from the personal — sculptures Mary Mattingly creates from her own possessions — to the global — Marina Zurkow's examination of petrochemical-containing products in widespread use....

    Mary Mattingly’s photographic print Pull is in the show “Extracted” at USF’s Contemporary Art Museum.
  4. Frida Kahlo show coming to the Dalí Museum in December

    Visual Arts

    Frida Kahlo fans, celebrate.

    The celebrated 20th century Mexican artist will have her first solo exhibition in Florida at the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg beginning Dec. 17. Though numerous works by Kahlo have been exhibited individually, this is the first time in Florida a show has been devoted to her work, according to the museum.

    Co-organized by the Dalí and the Museo Dolores Olmedo in Mexico City, it will feature more than 60 pieces, including paintings and drawings, along with photographs from Kahlo's collection. ...

    Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s work will be on display at the Dal? Museum starting in December.
  5. Review: Boldly conceived folk art on display at Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg

    Visual Arts


    Everyone has an interesting life story, so I believe. But most of those belonging to self-taught artists, sometimes also called folk artists, always seem especially compelling. Reading their brief biographies on wall labels at "From the Heart: Folk Art on Paper" at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg is a moving experience.

    That said, art must stand on its own. The art in this show generally does, not always based on formal technique but on conceptual merits. Their difficult lives inform their art, distilled through a prism of imagination that's based on experience and yet transcends it....

    Thornton Dial, Untitled, drawing on paper.
  6. Art Planner: Cafes with art and a gallery show to beat the heat

    Visual Arts


    I admit it: I have always been a snob about fine art in restaurants. It's bad for the art with all the fumes and people coming and going with no means of mitigating those destructive elements. And how do you really get to see the art when it's hanging over an occupied table? But … I cede the notion after learning of so many cafes and pubs exhibiting art, some with robust sales of it. Unlike the past, in formal restaurants, these venues rotate the art in and out quickly. And if the artists like it and it helps them, then yea! I also see the fun in having a coffee or brew with friends and having cool art to look at while you're there. And maybe those alcoholic beverages loosen the wallet. So have a good time commingling art and recreational eating. ...

    Susan Shaffer’s sculpture won first place for three-dimensional art in Uptown Gallery’s Dog Days of Summer show in Sarasota.
  7. Norma Kamali retrospective at Tampa Museum of Art is back-to-the-future experience

    Visual Arts

    Norma Kamali has survived the roiling currents of the fashion industry for almost 50 years by being a genius at two contradictory impulses: She is a pioneer. She is conservative. Many would disagree with that latter description, but hear me out.

    She has introduced and popularized trends such as the use of unusual materials and, instead of constantly moving onto the next new thing as many designers feel compelled to do, she has continued to keep them in her rotation. They have endured because they're timeless....

    Joanna Robotham, left, curator of modern and contemporary art, and Emily McVeigh, exhibitions and collections manager, work on the “Norma Kamali — City: Fashion+Art+Culture” exhibit, which continues through Sept. 25.
  8. Review: Horst P. Horst's elegant photographs stand test of time at Dali Museum

    Visual Arts


    If you are of any age and follow fashion, you're familiar with the work of photographer Horst P. Horst (1906-1999). Or at least one example of his work, the famous Mainbocher Corset, even if you don't follow fashion. From the 1930s into the 1950s, he was the preeminent fashion photographer for Vogue, then transitioned into bringing glamorous and famous people and their homes onto the pages of that magazine and House and Garden, also a publication of the Condé Nast Corp., which owned the best lifestyle magazines in the world. A retrospective of Horst's work at the Dalí Museum gives us a broad view of his talent and recognizable photographic style in 180 examples, mostly of his work in fashion. ...

    Friends Phoebe Ferguson, 17, left, of Brandon and Jack Ray, 17, of Plant City take in color photos by Horst P. Horst at the Dal? Museum At right is a color photo that appeared on the American Vogue summer fashions issue in May 15,1941.
  9. Art planner: 'Beetlejuice' at the Dalí Museum, fine crafts, preview of Arts Month

    Visual Arts


    More reasons to take advantage of the Dalí Museum's extended hours to 8 p.m. Thursday and admission of $10 after 5 p.m.: Its Cult Classic series features a free screening of Beetlejuice, the 1988 creepy-fun film starring Michael Keaton, above. It starts about 8:30 p.m. in the Avant Garden. But come early to see the superb permanent collection and a new exhibition of photographs by Horst P. Horst at a discount (admission is usually $24) inside the museum. Beginning at 7 p.m., food trucks (Hott Mess, P.J. Rick's and Krepelicious) will be parked outside, and garden games and costume contests will be in the garden. Craft beer tasting tickets are $1. This is the last Cult Classic event for the summer at the Dalí, 1 Dalí Blvd., St. Petersburg. (727) 823-3767. ...

    A mural by Greg Mike is at the Goldman Wetzel Law Firm, 915 First Ave. N.
  10. Chihuly Collection reopens in new location in St. Petersburg Oct. 15

    Visual Arts

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Chihuly Collection will reopen in its new location at 720 Central Ave. on Oct. 15, said executive director Andy Schlauch, after the galleries on Beach Drive closed Sunday.

    The collection of spectacular vessels and sculptures by Dale Chihuly, the most famous glass artist in the world, will now occupy 11,000 square feet of indoor space, plus 4,000 square feet of outdoor space for parties and events such as weddings. Next door will be a Publix supermarket and above will be three parking decks. ...

    The Chihuly Collection’s original space at 400 Beach Drive offered high visibility but lacked space for special events.
  11. Shana Moulton's 'Journeys' a quirky video exhibition at Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg

    Visual Arts


    If you take the time, you will find much to enjoy in "Shana Moulton: Journeys Out of the Body" at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg. Therein lies your challenge. Taking the time means investing two hours, minimally, to view the 15 or so videos. Ideally, you would need at least three hours because you would probably want to revisit some of them. That commitment asks much of most museumgoers. ...

    A still from Shana Moulton’s Whispering Pines videos at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg.
  12. Art planner: Harold Edgerton's photographs at MFA, circus posters at Ringling

    Visual Arts


    Sunday is the last day to view the small exhibition of Harold Edgerton's photographs in the second-floor gallery at the Museum of Fine Arts. Edgerton (1903-40) was the electrical engineering professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who refined the stroboscope and transformed photography using its high-speed flash. The technique deconstructed motion, allowing us to see every part of it as it happens. The human eye can blink every one-fortieth of a second; a camera shutter in the 1930s can function every one-hundreth of a second, and Edgerton's strobe could flash at one-millionth of a second. He wasn't the first to explore this type of photography but he became the best. We have seen his famous images before: bullets ripping through an apple and banana, a drop of milk forming a perfect coronet as it splashes, Bobby Jones' legendary golf swing captured in multiple images of perfection. And did you know: When a bat hits the ball, the bat bends; when a football is kicked, it collapses at the point of impact. It's the 1938 version of Deflategate. The exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, 255 Beach Drive NE, continues through Sunday. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday with extended hours to 8 p.m. Thursday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. $17, $15 seniors and $10 kids 7 and older and students with ID. (727) 896-2667. ...

    A circa 1890 Sells Brothers and Barrett Circus poster promoting William Showles and Daisy Belmont, is part of a collection at the Ringling’s Circus Museum.
  13. Peter Max's art at Tampa Museum delights and disappoints

    Visual Arts


    Peter Max had a real moment, an important moment, in art. In the 1960s, he, perhaps more than any other artist, addressed the counterculture zeitgeist on a level that resonated with a much broader population than that of the love-and-peace movement.

    His interpretation of pop art, which he fused with psychedelic imagery, seemed so fresh and original. Most of all, during such a turbulent time in America's history, it was positive and uplifting rather than threatening. His posters adorned walkups in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury, the epicenter of hippiedom, as well as fraternity houses and dorm rooms. He did one for National Library Week in 1969. That's as mainstream as you can get, and yet he didn't compromise his vision, using a book as a portal into a place of creativity....

    Peter Max’s older pieces, such as Different Drummer, part of a new exhibit at the Tampa Museum of Art, are nostalgic. Latter works, including landscapes and appropriations of Mona Lisa, aren’t that interesting.
  14. Art Planner: Ya La'ford's 'labyrinths' at Chihuly Collection, plus gallery shows

    Visual Arts


    Ya La'ford's murals have become increasingly immersive, full-on installations. Give her a space and she will cover every square inch with mysterious linear or geometric patterns that make viewers feel as if they have entered either an ancient Mayan temple or an alien starship.

    A new interactive work at the Chihuly Collection, 400 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg, will include her signature "labyrinths," enhanced with LED lighting and a sound component, which should further the sense of being in another dimension. Grounding it all will be recorded readings by Helen Pruitt Wallace, St. Petersburg's poet laureate. ...

    Ceramic sculpture by Haley Swanson at the Morean Arts Center.
  15. Art planner: Cool Art Show comes to St. Petersburg, new gallery shows around Tampa Bay

    Visual Arts


    Its name would be a cruel joke in this summer of our sweltering discontent if not for its literalness: The Cool Art Show is air-conditioned! For almost 30 years, the event, organized by the Professional Association of Visual Artists, has been parked in the St. Petersburg Coliseum, a necessary departure from most art festivals, which are held outside in more temperate weather. Also unlike most, rain can't dampen it. It's intimate, with 75 artists and crafters displaying their work so you can navigate all the booths without getting visual overload. ...

    Justin Rabideau’s sculptures are in the spotlight.