In Memoriam: Mira Lehr, eco-feminist artist and Miami art-scene legend, 88
MIAMI – Nationally acclaimed eco-feminist artist Mira Lehr died January 24 at the age of 88. No cause of death was given. Throughout her six decades of art-making she was recognized as a pioneer and celebrated as the godmother of Miami’s art scene. Lehr’s solo and group exhibitions number more than 300.
In 1961, upon returning to Miami Beach from New York, she co-founded in Miami one of the country’s first women-led artist co-ops – it was called Continuum and thrived for more than 30 years. In what proved to be her final year, she enjoyed a new level of artistic success. In September of 2022, three of Lehr’s works were acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and in May 2022, the renowned art book publisher Skira Editore released a 420-page monograph on the artist.
Her work has been collected by major institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York; the Smithsonian Museum of American Art (DC); the Getty Museum Research Center (L.A.); the Boca Raton Museum of Art; the Perez Art Museum Miami; the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center (NY); the Margulies Collection; the Mennello Museum of American Art; MOCA North Miami; the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum-FIU; the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU; and the Orlando Museum of Art.
Lehr’s work also appears in the Leonard Lauder corporate collection in New York, and in the private collections of Elie and Marion Wiesel, Jane and Morley Safer, and Judy Pfaff. Mount Sinai Hospital Miami Beach commissioned 30 paintings from her. Pieces by Lehr are displayed in American Embassies around the world, and one is permanently on view at the Sloan Kettering Memorial Center in New York. Lehr’s large-scale installation Sacred Dreams can be seen in Miami Beach at the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU, a gift from Dr. Robert B. Feldman.
After graduating from Vassar College in 1956, Lehr studied and worked in New York, where she met some of America’s most prominent masters, including Joan Mitchell, Lee Krasner and Helen Frankenthaler. Lehr studied with James Brooks, Ludwig Sander, Robert Motherwell, and within the Hans Hofmann circle. In 1969, Buckminster Fuller chose her as one of only two artists to participate in his World Game Project on sustainability, an event that preceded the first Earth Day.
During her multi-decade career, Lehr’s nature-based work encompassed painting, sculpture and video. She used nontraditional media such as welded steel, gunpowder, fire and fuses, the last of which she ignited and exploded to create lines of fire across her paintings.
The artist was recently selected for three concurrent exhibitions during Art Basel Miami Beach 2022 / Miami Art Week, including a group show at the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU in South Beach, which remains on view until April; a group show at the Center for Visual Communication in Wynwood, which closes on March 15; and a solo exhibition at Rosenbaum Contemporary that was displayed during Art Basel. Lehr’s painting Norweky is also on view at the Boca Raton Museum of Art as part of its permanent collection gallery.
Mira Lehr is pre-deceased by her husband, Dr. David Lehr. She is survived by her children, Alison Fryd, John Lehr, Elizabeth Matthews, and Paul Lehr; and their respective spouses, Michael Fryd, Katie Lehr, Sir Ian Matthews, and Jeannine Lehr; and her grandchildren, David Isaac, David Charles, Caitlin, Hayden, Charlie, Ian and Tager.
A New York public television interview featuring Mira Lehr may be viewed at: https://youtu.be/qiXqbb43kAU
A PBS television interview with Mira Lehr may be viewed at: https://www.pbs.org/video/environmental-artist-mira-lehr-art-loft-903-segment-llr6wd/
A video of a recent panel discussion honoring Mira Lehr for Women’s History Month may be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qisi162al-Q&t=683s
Auction Central News published a Q&A with Mira Lehr in November 2022.