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. 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.”
  2. 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....

    
  3. 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. ...

    Painting by Mary Ann Carroll.
  4. 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. ...

    This gown, designed by Neva Durham, is made of 5,000 artificial rose petals and 2,000 rhinestones.
  5. 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.”
  6. 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.
  7. 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"
  8. 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.
  9. 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. ...

    Allison Hunter, Untitled #5, 2005.
  10. Plans unfold for huge art museum in downtown St. Petersburg

    Features

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was an astonishing announcement, made in November 2013, that for some reason didn't draw the astonishment it should have.

    The Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement would rise on a downtown St. Petersburg site with a multimillion-dollar permanent collection in a four-story, 90,000-square-foot building designed at a cost of more than $35 million by Alfonso Architects of Tampa. It would also have a two-story parking garage. ...

    Rudy Ciccarello, whose collection of American Arts and Crafts is considered one of the best in the world, plans to build a museum in downtown St. Petersburg.
  11. Review: Poseidon's ancient, powerful world on view at Tampa Museum of Art

    Visual Arts

    Poseidon was one busy god.

    In the ancient world, he was in charge of the seas and natural disasters, especially earthquakes. Poseidon was also, like his fellow gods and goddesses, a lusty soul, racking up dozens of liaisons that ranged from romance to rape, leading to many progeny. We see his story told in "Poseidon and the Sea: Myth, Cult and Daily Life" at the Tampa Museum of Art in 125 objects dating from 800 B.C. to 400 A.D. and encompassing the Greek, Etruscan and Roman cultures....

    A ceramic mixing vessel from around 520 B.C. is one of the antiquities on display at “Poseidon and the Sea: Myth, Cult & Daily Life” at the Tampa Museum of Art.
  12. Herb Snitzer photographs revisit St. Pete Pride

    Visual Arts

    St. Pete Pride is the big event Saturday and Sunday. But keep in mind, when that ends, you can revisit the famous parade through the photographs of Herb Snitzer at Nuance Galleries in Tampa. For several years, he has documented the event, and a collection of about two dozen photographs will be on view along with vintage photographs of jazz greats and celebrities, all in his signature black-and-white prints. Snitzer, who is noted for those portraits, especially his intimate ones of jazz musicians, also has a long history of advocacy and action for social causes. He was involved in the civil rights movement early on, for example. He isn't a didactic photographer, though; there's a lot of heart that comes through the camera lens. Nuance, 804 S Dale Mabry Highway, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Free. nuancegalleries.com or (813) 875-0511....

    For several years, photographer Herb Snitzer has been documenting St. Pete Pride.
  13. Step back in time at ARTpool

    Visual Arts

    If you're in the market for something to wear, something to do, something to collect or something to eat, ARTpool, 2030 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, is your go-to place as an art gallery, event space, record store and purveyor of retro and antique furniture and vintage clothing. Plus there's a cool cafe serving soups, salads and wraps, including vegan and gluten-free offerings, plus craft beer and wine. An added activity on Saturday and Sunday is its Crafty Fest. Several dozen vendors set up in the ARTpool garden selling locally made crafts, including an Etsy contingent, and vintage goods. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. artpoolrules.com....

    The ARTpool Crafty Fest is Saturday and Sunday. It’s at 2030 Central Ave., St. Petersburg.
  14. Large glass sculptures provide 'gem of a show' at Ringling

    Visual Arts

    SARASOTA

    The big show at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is "Intent to Deceive: Fakes and Forgeries in the Art World." It's a fascinating look inside the world of gifted artists who made careers copying or working in the style of famous artists and passing it off as genuine.

    But the museum has a lot more to see in addition to the show and its magnificent permanent collection. A gem of a show also on view is "Precarious Possessions," large sculptures by glass artist Beth Lipman. ...

    Shown are a crib and a Shaker-inspired adult cradle used to rock the dying.
  15. Leepa-Rattner museum features famous local artists

    Visual Arts

    Jack Barrett died in 2008, but his joyous art lives on in public and private collections (I have a beloved painting hanging on one of my walls) and, through Aug. 31, at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art. Being a successful illustrator at the Times paid his bills for 20 years. When he retired in the 1980s, he began painting full time and easily paid his bills with sales of his fine art. Nine watercolors and collages are on view at the museum, 600 Klosterman Road, on the Tarpon Springs campus of St. Petersburg College. ...

    Jack Barrett, Fantastic Flight, watercolor on paper.