Miami artist Mira Lehr’s ‘High Water Mark’ opens Jan. 24

Mira Lehr

Mira Lehr is hitting a new high-water mark in her career with national critical acclaim and a passion for protecting the planet. Image courtesy of the artist

ORLANDO, Fla. – 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. The exhibition will open Jan. 24 and run through May 10 at the Mennello Museum of American Art.

At 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.

Mira Lehr has been championing environmental action since 1969, decades before others jumped on the climate bandwagon. It was 50 years ago that Buckminster Fuller chose Lehr for his groundbreaking World Game project, which that year coincided with the first lunar landing.

She 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.

“It 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 Lehr.

Now, on the 50th anniversary of her artistic turning point, Mira Lehr has been invited by the Mennello Museum of American Art in Orlando to present a new exhibition titled “High Water Mark.”

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: Climate Armageddon,” says Lehr.

The 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.

Recent 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.

“I created these works to sound a clarion call for awareness and action,” says Lehr.

Her majestic Mangrove Labyrinth installations have now been re-imagined 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.

Mira Lehr

‘Mangroves – The Protectors’ (detail), by Mira Lehr. Image courtesy of the artist

Visitors will feel like they are walking inside the root systems. Lehr’s nature-based work encompasses painting, sculpture and video installations. She uses nontraditional 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.

“Bucky 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.”

They include: 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
Lehr has also hit a new high=water mark this year with major national and international recognition. She was recently selected for a major solo museum show that headlined Art Basel in Miami Beach.

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.

Curated by Ginger Gregg Duggan, the show is tailored to the Mennello Museum’s galleries with four distinct installations in each of the main gallery spaces. Included among the works is Siren’s Song, a monumental series of 10 panels that dominate one of the main galleries, spanning 40 feet in length and 7 feet tall.

Click to visit the Mennello Museum of American Art online.