Miami Art Week: Art Icons Mira Lehr + Martin Z. Margulies

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Artist Mira Lehr, center, with Lesley Goldwasser and Jonathan Plutzik, art collectors and owners of The Betsy Hotel-South Beach. Mira hosted a book launch and fundraiser for the Deering Estate Foundation at her 1930s Miami Beach waterfront estancia that drew a multi-generational gathering as eclectic and enlivening as Mira’s dazzling and noteworthy artworks. Photo Augustus Mayhew.

The Miami art world’s iconic groundbreakers, artist Mira Lehr and collector Martin Z. Margulies, were center stage during Art Basel’s recent international aesthetic convergence, attracting savvy collectors, curators, influencers, gallerists, and anyone who could outlive standstill traffic.

Mira welcomed more than 150 invited guests to a private reception and an exclusive preview of the soon-to-be published Skira Editore edition of her 420-page book Mira Lehr: Arc of Nature — The Complete Monograph. With proceeds set to benefit the Deering Estate Foundation, Skira Editore’s 100 advance copies were winged in from Milan and promptly sold out at the event. During Art Week in the Wynwood Arts District the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse attracts an audience considerable enough that admissions and book sales can result in a six-figure donation that benefits the nearby Lotus House Shelter for homeless women and children.

A great pleasure meeting the incomparable Mira Lehr! During the past year, her timely art and life have been featured in The New York Times, The Art Newspaper, ArtDaily, and the Robb Report.

Marty Margulies, one of the world’s leading art collectors, photographed during Art Week 2021 at his 50,000 square-foot warehouse-museum housing many of his more than 5,000 artworks. Photo Augustus Mayhew.
Mira Lehr’s work is collected by major institutions including the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Getty Museum Research Center Los Angeles, Boca Raton Museum of Art, Perez Art Museum Miami, Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Margulies Collection, Mennello Museum of American Art, MOCA North Miami, Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU, and the Orlando Museum of Art. [Courtesy of the artist]
Located at the intersection of Old and New Florida, Mira Lehr’s acqua alta domain is sheltered by a towering stand of royal palms with the oceanfront’s wall of hotels and condominiums located across the waterway.

December 2, 2021
Mira Lehr Residence & Studio Reception
Deering Estate Foundation benefit

“The excitement of discovery and creation keeps me going,” revealed Mira Lehr, now 87, in a recent interview with writer Seth Kubersky who attended the book-signing event. With her studio looking more like a laboratory than an atelier and located in a downstairs wing of her Spanish-style home, Mira told the interviewer, “I spend almost all my time doing my work and with every day there are new questions and new investigations. Slowing down does not fit into my plans.” Having completed more work during the past two years than ever before, Mira’s not putting away her brushes.

A New York native, Lehr made the move to Miami Beach during the 1960s when she was a founder of the Continuum group and the first woman’s co-op art gallery in South Florida. Her husband, the late Dr. David Lehr, a noted cardiologist, was a founder of Miami’s renowned Pritikin Center. Having first established her work among New York’s abstract expressionists, the move to South Florida’s tropical environment inspired nature-based motifs for her paintings, sculptures and installations that became her signature. And when combined with the use of non-traditional media, such as resin, gunpowder, fire, Japanese paper, dyes, and welded steel, it makes for a chemistry that produces sublime works of art.

In New York, Lehr studied with James Brooks, Ludwig Sander, Robert Motherwell, and was among the Hans Hofmann circle of artists. [Courtesy of the artist]
Jerrod Sharp, Deering Estate Foundation board member, Mira Lehr, and Jeremy Evans.

The book launch was a fundraiser for the 450-acre Charles Deering Estate, a cultural, architectural and archaeological destination listed in the National Register and now owned by the State of Florida.

Located south of his brother James Deering’s better-known Vizcaya, International Harvester chairman of the board Charles Deering’s philanthropic legacy continues today, supporting cultural and educational endeavors as well as significant scientific and archaeological projects to conserve its native ecosystems.

Mira Lehr (Vassar ’56) with film maker Diane Robinson, president of South Florida’s Vassar Club, left, and Taungela Ambrose, right. At Vassar, Mira was mentored by Linda Nochlin, a noteworthy feminist art historian.
MIRA LEHR. Progression, 2021. Burned and dyed Japanese paper, charcoal handwriting, ink and acrylic on canvas.
Among the guests at the reception, Cecilia Perez, Chris Rousseau, Dianna Rousseau, Mira Lehr, Kathleen Goncharov, Boca Raton Museum of Art’s senior curator, and Mary Dinaburg.
L. to r.: Angel Rivera and Jane Poynter; NYSD’s spirited Lee Fryd who introduced me to Instagram. Lee’s brother, photographer Michael Fryd, is married to Mira Lehr’s daughter Allison Lehr Fryd.
Michael Fryd with Carol Fryd, Lee’s mother.
Joan and Matt Giles.
Sarah and Richard Kimball.
Jody Harrison Grass, Boca Raton Museum of Art Board of Trustees chair, wearing a Mira-designed necklace, with Mira Lehr.
Jeanne Sobel.
Mira Lehr artwork, detail.
Studio. Mira Lehr’s magical alchemy.
Studio. Brush work.
Jennifer Okumura and Kaveh Mojtabai.
L. to r.: Tina Caso; Jane Silverman.
Betsy Steele and Josette Grassie.
Mary Dinaburg, Amy Galpin. Frost Museum chief curator, and Rangsook Yoon, Baker Museum-Naples, curator.
William Castellanos and Adriana Herrera.
Seth Kubersky, Genvieve Bernard, Malka Kubersky, and Edward Kubersky.
Nina Zanella.
Ian Matthews, Mira’s grandson, taking a breather from his hectic schedule.
Sara Solomon, Harvey Burstein, and Janis Good.
Jim Thomas and Edyta Teper.
Jane and Barton Shallat.
Jennifer Tisthammer, Deering Estate director, with Mira Lehr.
L. to r.: Jill Buchanan and Bill Spring; Marci Langley and Nikki Levy.
Majestic stand of royal palms, view northeast across pool.
In the studio, Jose Lima and Melissa Diaz, curator for Mira’s October 2021 exhibition at the Charles Deering estate.
Carol Damian with Mira Lehr.
Waterway southeast view with bench.
“Ladies on the Bench.” Marlene Zinn, Sandy Sacharoff, Terry Ethier, and Josephine Lopez.
L. to r.: Isabel Olmos; Charles Paret and Kelly Makee.
Matai Johnson and Marlon Johnson, in the walled forecourt entrance that featured an original 1930s coquina fountain and built-in bird cage.
View from above, guests gathered on the pool terrace, including Artscope’s Nancy Nesvet, Jane Poynter, Josette Grassie, and Betsy Steele.
Lady Rocket (Eva Blaisdell) and Grant Blaisdell.
MIRA LEHR. Mixing Currents, 2013.

Moments with Mira …

Becky Matkov and Melissa Diaz with Mira Lehr.
Sydney Carpel Schaechter with Mira Lehr.
Nancy Eggland with Mira Lehr.
Lee Cohen and Jeannine Lehr.
MIRA LEHR. Resurrection I, 2017.

December 2, 2021
Margulies Collection at The Warehouse
591 West 27 Street, Miami – Wynwood Arts District

When I arrived at the Margulies Warehouse, Marty Margulies wanted to talk about the news that the Bezos Academy, founded by Jeff Bezos, a graduate of Miami’s Palmetto High School, selected the Lotus House Homeless Shelter as a location for one of its tuition-free, Montessori-inspired pre-schools for underserved communities.

Located in the Overtown district near his Warehouse Collection, Margulies was instrumental in establishing Lotus House that has been serving homeless women and children since 2006, assisting as many as 500 people a day. The Margulies Collection is a non-profit institution dedicated to the education and promotion of contemporary art, operated and funded by the Martin Z. Margulies Foundation, a thirty-year resource for the study and appreciation of the visual arts. while admissions and book sales benefit the Lotus House Homeless Shelter for women and children.



Curator Katherine Hinds, Margulies Collection at the Warehouse. Photo Augustus Mayhew.

The Arte Povera exhibition is focused on the works of Italian artists who subverted tradition during post-WW II Italy, featuring works by Alighiero Boetti, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Luciano Fabro, Jannis Kounellis, Giulio Paolini, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Mario Merz and Gilberto Zorio. 

Margulies Collection, central hall. Arte Povera.
Margulies Collection, exhibition gallery at the Warehouse.
The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse.

Nightfall, Miami Beach skyline.

Photography Augustus Mayhew.

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