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She founded, in 1960, one of the first artist co-ops for women. Mira Lehr was among the first to blaze a trail for women artists who were excluded from the male-dominated art world.
Today, sixty years later, Mira Lehr is recognized as "the Godmother of the entire Miami art scene." (view in browser here)
She was shocked at the lack of an art scene in Miami in 1960 when she moved back to Miami Beach from New York, 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."
Now, at the age of 85, Mira Lehr is creating more new works than at any other period of her career during the last six decades.
Sixty years later, Mira Lehr has created powerful new work that calls attention to today’s pressing issues ─ saving the planet and protecting the environment.
The exhibition is now on view until February 3rd, including Miami Art Week.
Meet the artist during Art Basel week at the annual Sunday brunch event on Dec. 8th
Meet the artist Mira Lehr at the annual Sunday brunch event during Art Basel
Miami Beach. The event is on Dec. 8th at 10:00 a.m. at the Jewish
Museum of Florida-FIU, located in South Beach at 301 Washington Avenue.
Reservations required to attend. Free for Art Basel VIP Card holders
with RSVP. $18 for museum members; $25 for non-members. RSVP required in advance here.
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.
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 in 1960.
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.
Babablue I, by Mira Lehr, Japanese paper, acrylic, ink, stencil and resin on canvas.
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,” adds Lehr.
Mira Lehr recalls, as a child in the 1940s, walking by a frightening 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," said Lehr.
"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."
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 in front of Buckminster Fuller’s Fly Dome. Photo by Jonathan Traviesa
Now, more than 70 years later after witnessing that terrible sign that said "No Jews, No Dogs,"
Mira Lehr 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.
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 and features 180 aerial sculptures.
Mira Lehr in front of Creation (triptych)
Mira Lehr in the studio with Zoltan Hecht, 1958
the 1950s in New York, Mira Lehr knew and worked with some of America's
most prominent leading artists: Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell, Hans
Hoffman, Helen Frankenthaler, Robert Motherwell, James Brooks . . .
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, and Helen Frankenthaler. She studied with James Brooks, Ludwig Sander and Robert Motherwell, and within the Hans Hofmann circle.
Mira Lehr with Robert Motherwell, 1964
Blazing the trail for women artists
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."
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 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
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.
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 paper.
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."
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.
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 . . .
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
The "Mistress of Light"
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mira Lehr in front of Buckminster Fuller’s Fly Dome, PAMM Museum, 2014. Photo by Jonathan Traviesa
Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU is located in the heart of Miami Beach’s
Art Deco District, at 301 Washington Avenue on South Beach. It serves as
a major cultural attraction and source of information for a wide
audience of residents, tourists, students and scholars of all ages and
backgrounds from throughout the state, nation, and the world.
in a former synagogue that housed Miami Beach's first Jewish
congregation, the museum's restored 1936 Art Deco building and 1929
original synagogue are both on the National Register of Historic Places.
The 301 building features nearly 80 stained glass windows, a copper
dome, marble bimah and many Art Deco features including chandeliers and
sconces. The Jewish Museum of Florida is accredited by the American
Alliance of Museums. The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m.-5
p.m. Closed on Mondays and holidays. Admission: Adults $12; Seniors $8;
Families $24; Members and children under 6 always free; Saturdays-Free.
For more information, please call 305-786-972-3175 or visit
Museum is supported by individual contributions, foundations,
memberships and grants from the State of Florida, Department of State,
Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and
Culture, the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, the Miami-Dade County
Tourist Development Council, the Miami-Dade County Department of
Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County
Mayor and Board of County Commissioners and the City of Miami Beach,
Cultural Affairs Program, Cultural Arts Council, and the Funding Arts