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Mira Lehr, one of the art world’s pioneer environmental activists, presents High Water Mark on the 50th anniversary of her mission to protect the earth.
Opens January 24 – May 10 at the Mennello Museum of American Art in Orlando
the age of 85, Mira Lehr is hitting a new high water mark in her career
with national critical acclaim and a passion for protecting the planet
from climate Armageddon.
Mira Lehr has been championing environmental action since 1969, decades before others jumped on the climate bandwagon. It was fifty years ago that Buckminster Fuller chose Lehr for his groundbreaking WorldGame project, which that year coincided with the first Lunar landing.
was one of only two visual artists selected that year, alongside a
group of scientists, poets, economists, historians, and performers from
around the country.
Fuller’s team of cultural pioneers worked on ways to make human life sustainable on the planet, and it was also a year before the very first Earth Day demonstrations.
was a time of great hope. For the first time mankind could see the
whole earth in its entirety from the moon, and as an artist I was
inspired by a new global vision,” says Mira Lehr as she looks back on this crucial event that she was chosen to participate in fifty years ago.
Pictured below are the 1969 participants of Buckminster Fuller's visionary World Game. Lehr is in the first row, third from the right, Fuller is center holding the globe.
The creative pioneers chosen by Buckminster Fuller for his 1969 World Game.
Mira Lehr is in the first row, third from the right, and Buckminster Fuller is center, holding the globe.
Now, on the 50th anniversary of her artistic turning point, the Mennello Museum of American Art in Orlando has invited Mira Lehr to present a new exhibition with a fateful title: High Water Mark.
Mangroves - The Protectors (detail), by Mira Lehr
the age of 85 and with a career that spans more than six decades of
artmaking, Lehr is creating more new work now than at any other point in
her life ─ with a heightened sense of urgency.
“The time to act is now. We must start referring to this perilous issue as what it really is: ClimateArmageddon,” says Lehr.
artist lives in Miami, a coastal city that is ground-zero for sea level
rise. When she put together this new exhibition for Orlando, Lehr made
some startling discoveries about the Central Florida area.
studies show that especially in Florida, even inland cities like
Orlando are impacted by sea level rise and its ripple effects. “The works in High Water Mark confront these current scenarios that we all face, wherever we live,” says Lehr.
Invisible Cities (detail), by Mira Lehr
According to Gary Mitchum, oceanography professor at the College of Marine Science, University of South Florida: “Climate change is causing flooding inland, too.” He is an expert in climate change that leaders in Central Florida have turned to for help with resiliency plans.
have torrential rains that go on for days,” Mitchum recently told the
Florida Senate’s Committee on Infrastructure and Security. “It’s going to get worse as the climate continues to warm.
Not only are seas rising and rain intensifying, but the warming climate
also has allowed invasive species and tropical diseases to extend
northward into Florida,” said Dr. Mitchum.
Beachwalk Dusk, by Mira Lehr
“I created these works to sound a clarion call for awareness and action,” says Lehr.
this new exhibition in Orlando, Lehr points her artistic spotlight to
recent news about how the dangers of Climate Armageddon are already
encroaching into Central Florida.
Climate Armageddon is bad for the local tourism industry too in Central Florida and Orlando, as Yale Climate Connections reports that increased heat waves are making amusement parks too uncomfortable for visitors.
Many of the works in Lehr's new exhibition that opens in Orlando on January 24 have never been seen this way before.
Magenta and Green Mangroves, by Mira Lehr
For the first time, her majestic Mangrove Labyrinth installations have now been reimagined as The Protectors.
These sculptural behemoths are reconfigured up onto the actual walls of the museum, climbing sideways across the gallery walls to surround the viewer. This emphasizes their guardian status, showing how Mangroves surround and protect against flooding.
Mangroves - The Protectors (detail), by Mira Lehr
Visitors will feel like they are walking inside the root systems.
Lehr’s nature-based work encompasses painting, sculpture and video
installations. She uses non-traditional media such as gunpowder, fire,
Japanese paper, dyes and welded steel, and she ignites and explodes
fuses to create lines of fire across her paintings.
As an homage to Buckminster Fuller, this show also features 15 drawings by Lehr that are rarely exhibited to the public. These are taken from mixed media paintings she created for an artist’s book to honor the World Game.
Above - some of the rarely seen images by Mira Lehr from her artist's book honoring Buckminster Fuller's World Game of 1969.
had a great influence on my life,” says Lehr. “These images relate to
Fuller’s concepts that I found to be meaningful to me while working with
this inspiring man.”
If used efficiently, there are enough resources to go around . . . Mankind is meant to be a success on this planet . . . and, You can never learn less.
The artist’s book is in the collection of the Rare Book Archives of Vassar College, Thompson Memorial Library.
Hitting a New High Water Mark in Her Career
She has also hit a new high water mark this year with major national and international recognition. Reaching even greater heights at this late stage in her life, at the age of 85 Lehr was recently selected for a major solo museum show that headlined Art Basel in Miami Beach.
This exhibition is currently hailed as a must-see by national art editors, who featured Lehr at the top of their lists for Art Basel 2019.
Critics are calling Lehr “The Godmother of the entire Miami Art Scene”
because in 1960 she created one of the nation’s first co-ops for women
artists. Her mentoring of young artists throughout six decades, and her
passion to succeed in the male-dominated art scene of 60 years ago,
benefited many in the early art community.
The new exhibition in Orlando showcases how Lehr is creating more art now than she has ever made before.
by Ginger Gregg Duggan, the show is tailored to the Mennello Museum’s
galleries with four distinct installations in each of the main gallery
Below the Surface is a seven-foot-wide glass-like sculptural installation with a ring of jelly fish flying up towards the ceiling.
Below the Surface, by Mira Lehr
Included among the works is Siren’s Song, a monumental series of ten panels that dominate one of the main galleries, spanning 40 feet in length and seven feet tall.
Siren's Song, by Mira Lehr
The site-specific installation Mixing Currents
takes up an entire gallery with video projections and hanging light
bulbs to convey the idea of nurturing the ocean by propagating corals in
indoor aqua-cultures. Her Creation triptych also commands large-scale attention.
Invisible Cities, by Mira Lehr
is a series of brass-conformed nettings that cluster along the gallery
walls. Inside each netted “cage” are names of extinct species. They
bring to mind the importance of community, the way that corals form
cities with their exoskeletons upon each other.
Invisible Cities, by Mira Lehr
Lehr, this communicates how we are all interwoven as communities upon
the earth. “We all depend on one another,” says Lehr. “If we lose one
community, we will lose them all.”
Creation, by Mira Lehr
Her Golden Anniversary as an Eco Warrioress
“It seems like yesterday, but it changed my creative life forever,” says Mira Lehr of her participation in Buckminster Fuller’s World Game at the New York Studio School in 1969, and its ecological emphasis.
changed how I looked at the world. I became very aware that we are all
meant to survive, and to survive well, on this planet.”
Buckminster Fuller leads a session during his 1969 World Game. Mira Lehr is standing at the top-left corner.
World Game’s mission statement was: “to make the world work, for 100%
of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous
cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.”
The group that Buckminster Fuller selected in 1969 consisted of only two visual artists, one of whom was Mira Lehr.
"Since then, nature has always been the driving force of my work,”
says Lehr. “This led me to realize my goal as an artist is to make
people love the environment. The natural surroundings that we are gifted
to live with on this planet are so amazingly beautiful. If people appreciate its beauty and love the environment, then they will protect the earth.”
About the Artist
Lehr’s solo and group exhibitions number over 300.
She is a graduate of Vassar College (1956) with a degree in Art
History, under the mentorship of Linda Nochlin, the feminist art
has been collected by major institutions across the U.S., including the
Smithsonian Museum of American Art (Washington), the Getty Museum
Research Center (Los Angeles), Perez Art Museum (Miami), and the Frances
Lehman Loeb Art Center (NY), among many others.
work is in the private collections of Elie and Marion Wiesel, Jane and
Morley Safer, and the artist Judy Pfaff, among others. Her most recent
solo exhibition headlined Art Basel Miami Beach at the Jewish Museum of
Florida-FIU and is receiving critical national praise.
the 1950s, Lehr studied and worked in New York as an artist, where she
met some of America’s most prominent masters including: Joan Mitchell, Lee Krasner, and Helen Frankenthaler. She studied with James Brooks, Ludwig Sander and Robert Motherwell, and within the Hans Hofmann circle.
Mira Lehr with Robert Motherwell in 1964 (photo by Klara Farkas)
Lehr moved back to Florida in 1960, she was shocked at the lack of an
art scene, especially for women. She convinced many of the famous
masters from New York to visit and lead workshops for her league of
women artists and this helped foster the evolution of art in Florida. She founded Continuum in 1960, one of the country’s first co-ops for women artists.
is included in the prestigious Leonard Lauder Corporate Collection in
New York. Thirty of her paintings were commissioned for the permanent
collection of Mount Sinai Hospital. 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. Her work has been included in
numerous art fairs during Art Basel Miami Beach, including Art Miami,
Pinta Art Fair and INK. She was the recipient of the Vizcaya Museum Lost Spaces Commission,
where she was commissioned to create a site-specific installation by
the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens as part of Vizcaya’s centennial
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