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“Mira Lehr: A Walk in the Garden”

Tuesday, October 15, 2019 @ 8:00 am - Monday, February 3, 2020 @ 5:00 pm MST

Her Reverence for Nature Soars to New Heights:
“Mira Lehr: A Walk in the Garden” — the Eco-Feminist’s
60th Anniversary of Visionary Artmaking

Mira Lehr in front of Creation (triptych), 2018
October 15 – February 3
At the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU for Art Basel Season
The Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU headlines Art Basel season with Mira Lehr: A Walk in the Garden featuring all new work created by the nationally renowned eco-feminist artist.

Celebrating her sixth decade as a pioneering artist on Miami Beach, the exhibition features ten monumental new paintings and 180 aerial sculptures that descend from the ceiling of the museum’s main sanctuary.

At the age of 85, Mira Lehr is creating more new works now than at any other period of her career. This new museum show for Art Basel Season emphasizes the artist’s reverence for nature and protecting the planet. The exhibition also honors the 60th anniversary of Lehr’s return to Miami Beach from New York which led, to her championing women artists.

Sand Bar (2018), by Mira Lehr. Acrylic, ink and resin on paper
“I am thrilled to celebrate my sixth decade as an artist in Miami Beach by showing my new work at the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU for Art Basel season,” said Mira Lehr.

“Because this museum was originally built in the 1930s as the first synagogue on Miami Beach for Jewish residents who were discouraged from living north of fifth street, my story comes full circle as I look back on my own experiences as a Jewish child growing up in Miami Beach during the 1940s.”

Mira Lehr recalls, as a child in the 1940s, walking by a sign that said ‘No Jews, No Dogs’ on her way to school each morning. “During the years 1947-1950, my family lived in the northern part of Miami Beach where not many Jewish families lived at that time.

“I remember seeing that terrible sign every day on a building in a secluded neighborhood street and thinking: when I grow up I’m going to do something so great that will make the people who created this sign change their minds,” adds Lehr.

“It makes me realize that although signs like that are not allowed anymore, there is an undercurrent of anti-Semitism that has always existed in the world. I hope that this changes, as people become more evolved,” said Mira Lehr.

Mira Lehr in front of Buckminster Fuller’s Fly Dome. Photo by Jonathan Traviesa
Now, more than 70 years later, the artist has created powerful new work that calls attention to today’s pressing issues ─ saving the planet and protecting the environment.

”My creation of art has always been based on nature, but now I am more dedicated to ecology and saving the planet. We are all in a terrible dilemma now, the planet is suffering and is in danger. People need to be aware of the danger that is threatening all of us, and we have to work together to reverse this situation,” adds Lehr.

Turquoise Rain, by Mira Lehr. Burned and dyed Japanese paper, acrylic, ink, stencil and resin on canvas.
This original new exhibition was conceived by Jacqueline Goldstein, the museum’s Curator.
The opening reception is Oct. 15 at 7:00 p.m. featuring a special appearance by Mira Lehr.

Mira Lehr in the studio with Zoltan Hecht, 1958
Prior to her return to Miami Beach in 1960, Lehr studied and worked in New York as an artist, where she became friendly with some of America’s most prominent artists including: Joan Mitchell, Lee Krasner, Helen Frankenthaler, and Ludwig Sander. She studied with James Brooks, Ludwig Sander and Robert Motherwell, and within the Hans Hofmann circle.

Mira Lehr with Robert Motherwell, 1964
When Lehr moved back to Miami Beach in 1960, she was shocked at the lack of an art scene in Miami, especially the plight of women artists. “Women artists at that time felt stranded and hopeless in Miami,” said Lehr. “I was determined to change that.”

She then founded Continuum in 1960, one of the country’s first co-ops for women artists who were excluded from the male-dominated art world. Continuum grew and succeeded for more than 30 years, shining a spotlight on Miami Beach’s fledgling art scene, well before Art Basel would impact the area’s cultural landscape.

Lehr convinced many of the famous masters from New York to visit Miami Beach, where they led workshops for her league of women artists and helped foster the evolution of art in Miami.

Mira Lehr in front of the Continuum co-op for women artists.. Photo by Annamae Levenson. (Balcony, left to right) – Peggy Gordon, Mira Lehr; (Top ladder, left to right)- Frida Tschumy, Brook Angle; (Bottom, left to right)- Kate Clark, Marcella Waldman, Shirley Michnoff, Annamae Levenson, Pansy Schenck (wife of Nicholas Schenck, the executive of MGM Studios), Carol Fryd

View Dreamscapes, the award-winning documentary about Mira Lehr by the Simon and Goodman Picture Company, at this link. Her nature-based imagery encompasses painting, design, sculpture and video installations.

Lehr’s processes include non-traditional media such as resin, gunpowder, fire, Japanese paper, dyes and welded steel. She ignites and explodes fuses, which burn holes and leave imprints on her layered paintings.
Lehr has inspired new generations of young artists by serving as a mentor and collaborator. She has taught master classes with the National Young Arts Foundation and has been artist in residence at the Bascom Summer Programs. Her solo and group exhibitions number over 300.
Watch this short film showing how Lehr uses gunpowder and explosives to create art at this link. She describes her use of explosives as tying into the theme of creation versus destruction, which is integral to the cycle of nature.

Lehr’s processes include non-traditional media such as gunpowder, fire and Japanese.
“Mira Lehr has created a spectacular new series of artworks specifically with this museum in mind,” said Susan Gladstone, the Executive Director of the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU. “The exhibition is a result of Lehr’s personal visit to this museum, after she spent time here and reflected upon the emotions and inspiration she felt. Lehr has combined her art with that of the stained-glass windows and the play of light they create together. The result is truly magnificent.”

Lehr’s new aerial installation of 180 sculptures was inspired by the beauty and majesty of the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU. “I want viewers to feel like they are walking through an aerial garden of luminous, reflecting sculptures,” said Lehr.

One of Lehr’s new series of sculptures for this exhibition is based on the seven kinds of plants mentioned in the Torah. “It will be a holy garden, that takes people out of the actual world and transports them onto a spiritual plane,” adds Lehr.
More about the artist . . .

Mira Lehr is a graduate of Vassar College (1956) with a degree in Art History, under the mentorship of feminist art historian, Linda Nochlin. In the 1960s, she collaborated with famous American painter, Robert Motherwell. In 1969 she was selected by Richard Buckminster Fuller, the renowned American architect, author and systems theorist, to participate in the first World Game Scenario Project at the New York Studio School.

Approaching the Singularity (2019), by Mira Lehr. Burned Japanese paper, acrylic, ink and resin on canvas

Working with imagery from the natural world, Lehr creates layered abstract compositions with unconventional materials. The 60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer referred to her as “the mistress of light.”
The lush flora of her Florida home has a profound influence on her aesthetic vocabulary. Art historian Irving Sandler describes her use of imagery: “What makes Lehr’s work different is the specificity of her references to nature. I was trying to think of any other artist working in this tradition who did it quite as explicitly as Mira does, and I couldn’t come up with one.”

Chinese Dream I and II by Mira Lehr. Acrylic, stencil, Japanese paper, ink and resin on canvas.
Her work can be seen in American Embassies around the world and is permanently on view in the lobby of the Evelyn Lauder Breast Center of the Sloan Kettering Memorial Center.

Her video installation, V1 V3, was on view at the New Museum, NY. She has been collected by institutions across the U.S., including: The New Museum in New York, the Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington DC, the Getty Museum Research Center in Los Angeles, the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center in New York, The Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach, and the Perez Art Museum Miami.
She is also included in the prestigious Leonard Lauder Corporate Collection in New York. Thirty of her paintings were commissioned to be in the permanent collection of the state-of-the-art, recently completed Mount Sinai Hospital in Miami Beach.

Her work was included in Art Miami and Pinta Art Fair during Art Basel by Rosenbaum Gallery, and MANA Contemporary. Lehr’s work is in many prominent private collections, including the collection of Elie and Marion Wiesel, Jane and Morley Safer, artist Judy Pfaff, and more.


Tuesday, October 15, 2019 @ 8:00 am MST
Monday, February 3, 2020 @ 5:00 pm MST
Event Category:


Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU
301 Washington Avenue
Miami Beach, FL United States
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