See “Eco-Feminist” Art Legend Mira Lehr’s Mangrove Sculptures at Art With Me Festival
Usually one slows down when they reach 87 years old. But Mira Lehr, a maverick of the Miami art scene, seems to be going faster and faster.
The “eco-feminist” artist is set to have a very busy winter season. At the moment, she’s celebrating an exhibition at the Deering Estate, which is on view until November 15. But later in the month is when the party really starts. Lehr will show her “Mangrove Labyrinth” installation at Art With Me, a music, art, and wellness festival taking over Historic Virginia Key Beach Park the weekend before Miami Art Week, November 26-28.
In her work, Lehr remains fixated on the environment and the impact of human activity upon it. “Mangrove Labyrinth” serves as an excellent example of this. Visitors to Art With Me will be dwarfed by the dense, massive tendrils of the sculpture’s artificial mangrove trees, which were crafted from tough marine rope wrapped around a steel skeleton, coated in resin and finished with flames for a burnt, weathered look. The irony of the work is that the mighty mangrove forests that once decorated the Florida coast are in heavy decline due to human activity.
“Mangroves are the great protectors of our planet’s ecosystem,” explains Lehr. “They protect against flooding, holding back erosion and guarding the shoreline. Visitors to the festival will feel like they are walking inside the root systems, and this emphasizes their guardian status.”
Lehr grew up on Miami Beach in the 1930s and ‘40s, long before the city was an art world destination. She would often experience anti-semitic discrimination, seeing signs barring black and Jewish customers from entering businesses. After graduating from Vassar, she moved to New York to study art and encountered some of the iconic artists of the time, including Helen Frankenthaler, Joan Mitchell, and Robert Motherwell. She returned to Miami Beach in the ‘60s and founded Continuum, a pioneering female-led art space that was one of the first in the Miami area. Her work now sits in museum collections around the world, from local institutions such as the Perez Art Museum Miami to the Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C.
With this in mind, it may seem like Art With Me is a slightly odd place to see Lehr’s work, but the artist welcomes the inclusion.
“I am thrilled that my ‘Mangrove Labyrinth’ sculptures will be enjoyed by the festival-goers at Art With Me, in the beautiful setting along the ocean’s edge,” she says.
In addition to massive art installations, the festival will feature wellness activities such as yoga, ice baths, drum circles, and reiki healing, as well as a musical lineup headlined by Sublime with Rome. Other performers include Tycho, Öona Dahl, Lee Burridge, and Behrouz.
Lehr is also the subject of a new 420-page monograph on her life and work published by Skira Editore. The book’s release date will be announced during Art Basel Miami Beach.
FOLLOW MIRA LEHR
Text By: Douglas Markowitz
Imge by: Michael E. Fryd