The Kimpton EPIC Hotel, one of Miami’s leading boutique hotels, presents a new art exhibition celebrating Women’s History Month titled ‘Mira Lehr: Continuum’, on view now through April 20th.
The nationally acclaimed, eco-feminist artist is celebrated for co-founding Continuum in 1961, one of America’s first art collectives for women artists. It thrived for more than 30 years, and her vision to kickstart the local art scene influenced the evolution of the visual arts in Miami.
The Hotel created its new EPIC Art initiative to advance the works of local artists and provide its visitors an insider’s look into the destination’s vibrant art scene.
Now, at the bold age of 87, Lehr is creating more new work now than ever before in her six decades of artmaking. The all-new works in this exhibition have never been exhibited before and were created by Lehr in 2022 and 2021.
Lehr is now gaining even more national and international acclaim, and she is the subject of a major new 400-page artist monograph book by Skira Editore, celebrating its worldwide release in April.
The exhibition is on view through April 20th, and will feature a panel discussion event about the role women artists played in the evolution of Miami’s art scene.
The moderator of this event will be The Miami Herald’s Jane Wooldridge, and the panel features some of South Florida’s groundbreaking cultural leaders, including: Lorie Mertes (Executive Director of Locust Projects, formerly of the National Museum of Women in the Arts); Melissa Diaz (Cultural Arts Curator of the Deering Estate); Vivian Donnell Rodriguez (former Director of Miami-Dade County Art in Public Places, now on the Palm Beach County Public Art Board); Diane Robinson (filmmaker); and Ombretta Agro (curator, environmental activist, and Executive Director of ARTSail).
The public will have the opportunity to meet the artist at this panel discussion, where she will sign advance copies of the new 400-page book by Skira Editore, the renowned art book publisher. Learn more about this major new international monograph honoring Mira Lehr at skira.net/en/books/mira-lehr-arc-of-nature-the-complete-monograph.
“Mira Lehr blazed trails as a woman artist in the 1950s during the male-dominated art scenes in New York and Miami during the mid-century era,” says Ericka Nelson, general manager of Kimpton EPIC Hotel and director of operations for Kimpton’s Florida hotels.
“Today, sixty years later, Lehr is recognized as one of the early influencers who helped Miami become an epicenter of creativity and diversity, and her new art continues to inspire new generations throughout her six decades of propelling the art movement forward. The launch of our Hotel’s EPIC Art initiative has infused the visual arts into the guest experience ‒ paying homage to the extraordinary creative talent that has served to make our city a cultural destination,” adds Nelson.
“I feel the urgency of both our global climate problems and our continuing need for progress for women in the arts,” says Mira Lehr.
“It is a privilege to be on the Earth and I believe we are meant to be a success on the planet.”
“If we can expand our thinking to cross borders and transcend places,our united vision for the planet can raise our awareness.It is this sense of hope and purpose that calls me to action through my art,” adds Lehr.
From 1956 to 1960, Mira Lehr had her art studio at Carnegie Hall in New York while she also raised a young family. She had just graduated from Vassar College in 1956 with a degree in Art History, under the mentorship of Linda Nochlin, the renowned feminist art historian.
While in New York, Lehr studied painting within the Hans Hofmann circle, and met many of the great American artists of that famed time in New York ‒ including Helen Frankenthaler, Joan Mitchell, Lee Krasner, James Brooks, Ludwig Sander, and Robert Motherwell.
Then, in December of 1960, she moved her family back to Miami Beach. “I was shocked at the lack of an art scene in Miami in 1960, especially for women artists,” said Mira Lehr.
“So we decided to take matters into our own hands and banded together our group of women artists to form Continuum as a working co-op to showcase women artists when no one else would, and it thrived for more than 30 years,” adds Lehr.
“We learned on our own how to create opportunities for ourselves, to display our work via DIY exhibitions throughout the 1960s, the 1970s and 1980s, an era in the art world that would be difficult for today’s young artists to imagine.”
In honor of Women’s History Month, one of the new paintings in this exhibition is titled Julia’s Prophecy (for Julia Tuttle). Known as “the mother of Miami,” Tuttle was pivotal in pioneering the City of Miami in the 1890s. The Hotel is located near the very spot where Julia Tuttle first settled.
The term Continuum is equated with being limitless
and with the idea of boundlessness, and this current time
has been a powerful period of creativity for Lehr.
New techniques and discoveries have paved the way for new visions and experiments in her art, and this exhibition thrives on that sense of newness for Mira Lehr.
“I am grateful to have been selected for this art exhibition honoring Women’s History Month, and to share this new series of works, some definitely representing a departure point,” says Mira Lehr.
“I no longer feel as though I have those Masters of art history sitting on my shoulders, watching what I am doing. I am more of an explorer now. I can now create in a more powerful way. I find that this realization often comes late in life, after a long career and I believe my sixty years of work has made me, in Hans Hofmann’s words, ‘search for the real’ in a more profound way,” says Mira Lehr.
To emphasize the peril of climate change that we are now experiencing, Lehr experiments with the use of fire. “This natural element of fire, often controlled and abused by man, is a major medium in my work and my interest in the environment has become a driving force.”
“Drawing with fuses and loose gunpowder on top of subtle hand drawing, I set the entire work ablaze, embracing the risk that such a gesture could destroy my entire painting. Afterward, only a trace of the flame’s path remains, bringing an exciting energy to the work and the suggestion of destruction,” says Lehr.
In her essay for Skira Editore’s new book about Mira Lehr, the art historian Eleanor Heartney states: “The 20th century opened with a burst of optimism, as advances in art, science and technology seemed to presage the birth of a marvelous new reality.”
“In the first two decades of the 21st century, by contrast, the news has been relentlessly grim at times. It takes a brave person these days to hold onto hope for a better future ‒ yet Lehr is not, however, a starry-eyed romantic,” adds Heartney.
“She is well aware of the challenges that face us, and she has the advantage of a long perspective. In the over sixty years that she has been active as an artist, Lehr has lived through any number of social upheavals,” says Heartney.
“These paintings reflect Lehr’s conviction that the current crises are planetary in scale, and she has shifted her work into new, more activist directions and explorations that push the limits of painting, experimenting with a wide range of new techniques and materials,” says Heartney.
“Such innovations have allowed Lehr to reach out to new audiences, to create whole new worlds that draw viewers into an awareness of their relationship with the natural world. But like all her works, they resist literal readings, instead inviting viewers to create their own narratives about the worlds they conjure.”
“She leavens her message with a seductive beauty that is designed to inspire contemplation about what is at stake,” adds Heartney.
“I feel the urgency of both our global climate problems and our
continuing need for progress for women in the arts,” says Mira Lehr.
“It is a privilege to be on the Earth and I believe we are
meant to be a success on the planet.”
“If we can expand our thinking to cross borders and transcend places,
our united vision for the planet can raise our awareness.
It is this sense of hope and purpose
that calls me to action through my art,” adds Lehr.
About the Artist Mira Lehr
Mira Lehr’s solo and group exhibitions number more than 300. She is a graduate of Vassar College (1956). Lehr will be the subject of a new, 400-page international monograph by the leading art book publisher Skira Editore, to be published in the spring of 2022.
Lehr 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), 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 Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU, and the Orlando Museum of Art.
Her work is in the private collections of Elie and Marion Wiesel, Jane and Morley Safer, and Judy Pfaff, among others.
She is included in the Leonard Lauder Corporate Collection in New York. Thirty of her paintings were commissioned for the collection of Mount Sinai Hospital.
Her work can be seen in American Embassies around the world and is permanently on view in the Sloan Kettering Memorial Center.
Her nature-based work encompasses painting, sculpture, and video. She uses nontraditional media such as gunpowder, fire, fuses, Japanese paper, dyes, and welded steel. Lehr is known for igniting and exploding fuses to create lines of fire across her paintings.
In 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.
Lehr studied with James Brooks, Ludwig Sander, Robert Motherwell, and within the Hans Hofmann circle. She was selected in 1969 by Buckminster Fuller, as one of only two artists, to participate in his World Game Project about sustainability and his groundbreaking “Spaceship Earth” concept which preceded the world’s very first Earth Day.
Lehr’s video installation, V1 V3, was exhibited at the New Museum, New York. She was the recipient of the Vizcaya Museum Lost Spaces Commission, where she was commissioned to create a site-specific installation for Vizcaya Museum and Gardens as part of the Museum’s centennial celebrations.
About Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants
San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants is the original boutique hotel company, which pioneered the concept of unique, distinctive, design-forward hotels in the United States in 1981.
Anchored in one-of-a-kind experiences, Kimpton now operates more than 60 hotels and 80 restaurants, bars and lounges across urban locations, resort destinations and up-and-coming markets in the United States, Canada, Europe, Caribbean and Greater China.
Kimpton spaces and experiences center on its guests, offering inspiring design that evokes curiosity to forward-thinking flavors that feed the soul.
Every detail is thoughtfully curated and artfully delivered, so that guest experiences remain meaningful, unscripted and ridiculously personal.
Kimpton’s employees, empowered to provide heartfelt service and experiences, have built a highly regarded workplace culture that appears consistently on FORTUNE magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list.
As a result, Kimpton has been awarded, “Highest in Guest Satisfaction Among Upper Upscale Hotel Chains” by J.D. Power three times.
In January 2015, Kimpton became part of the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) family of hotel brands. For more information, visit www.KimptonHotels.com.
Celebrating the 60th anniversary of Mira Lehr founding “Continuum,”
one of the country’s first-ever women artist collectives.
Featuring all new works by Lehr never exhibited before, on view now through April 20th at the Hotel’s new 16th floor gallery space.
Panel discussion event about Women in the Arts will premiere the worldwide release of new 400-page international volume about Mira Lehr by Skira Editore, one of the world’s leading art book publishers.