Mennello Museum of American Art is pleased to begin its 2020 season with an enticing solo exhibition, MIRA LEHR: HIGH WATER MARK — a delightful exploration into the recent work of highly esteemed Miami-based artist and eco-feminist, Mira Lehr.

Orlando, FL — November 2019

Mira Lehr’s entire career as an artist has focused on the natural world and our relationship with our surroundings.  Her residence in Miami, with a studio nestled right on the water, has unmistakably navigated her work toward the waterways and open ocean that form a unique and integral part of a life in Florida.

A “high water mark” indicates a literal measurement for the highest point the water level reaches in a given area at a particular time.  However, alternate meanings of the term suggest maximum value in various other sectors of life.  It seems fitting, then, that this phrase should be applied to the work of an artist whose career spans five decades, building ever forward toward a well-earned new heights.  Lehr’s recent work has been lauded by critics for the meaningful and contemplative commentary she offers on a timely and contentious subject — the state of our natural world.

Guest Curator, Ginger Gregg Duggan, states —

“Mira’s sense of wonder and faith in humanity’s ability to rise to the occasion with solutions, guides both her life and work.  It is precisely this character trait that inspired the theme of this exhibition, High Water Mark.”  She continues,“The experience of standing in the gallery, surrounded on all sides by the expansive panel painting, Siren’s Song, is not unlike visiting an aquarium viewing area, with windows granting vistas of mysterious underwater life.”

MIRA LEHR: HIGH WATER MARK is tailored to the Mennello Museum’s galleries and will feature four distinct installations in each of the main gallery spaces.  Visitors will be greeted by a site-specific installation of Lehr’s haunting, lighted sculptural cages, which will dance along the right side of the entry hall, opposite a newly ignited painting, Magenta and Green Mangroves.  Once in the reception area, viewers will find an environment comprised of multiple mangrove sculptures, suspended from the ceiling, growing into the space, thus forming a fully immersive experience for visitors to walk in, and among.  Another focal point will be a seven-foot-wide suspended glass sculptural installation titled Below the Surface — a commentary on jellyfish and their role in our environment.  Along the perimeter walls Lehr’s large-scale panel painting, Siren’s Song, will be further enriching the space.  Within the Mennello’s intimate front gallery, viewers can discover another immersive experience, where they will be surrounded by bare, suspended light bulbs reflecting the mirrored, coral wall sculptures as if underwater.  Titled, Below Mixing Currents, this installation serves as a tribute to the diminishing coral reefs that play such a vital role in the Earth’s overall health and balance.

In her new essay on Lehr’s work, which can be found in the special publication accompanying this exhibition, Curator, Duggan writes:

“This atmospheric condition of the underwater experience carries with it a vulnerability that can understandably be either intimidating or inspiring. Without being open to the unknown, one may never reap the rewards of a new adventure or experience. Considering Lehr through this particular lens reinforces her fearless and enthusiastic approach to both life and art.”

Speaking about the upcoming exhibition, Shannon Fitzgerald, Executive Director, states —

“We are honored to work with Mira Lehr as she enters the sixth decade of her career as a pioneering artist, whose radical artmaking and community building advanced the arts in Miami, starting in 1960, long before Miami had evolved into what it has become today.  Interested in the plight of women artists, and relocating from New York where she had worked with some of America’s most prominent artists such as Joan Mitchell, Lee Krasner, Helen Frankenthaler, Robert Motherwell, and Hans Hoffman, Lehr was shocked in Miami, yet dedicated her career to carving out a place where she could create the art she wanted, and garner the visibility she deserved.  I applaud Lehr’s legacy and celebrate her desire to share it with us and the Orlando community.”

Mira Lehr is an eco-feminist artist from Miami whose career spans five decades. Her nature-based imagery encompasses painting, design, sculpture and video installations. Lehr’s processes include non-traditional media such as resin, gunpowder, fire, Japanese paper, dyes, and welded steel.  She has affected a new generation of young artists, serving as a mentor and collaborator, teaching master classes with the National Young Arts Foundation, and has been an artist in residence at the Bascom Summer Programs.  Lehr’s solo and group exhibitions number over 300, and she is presently represented by Rosenbaum Contemporary in Boca Raton, FL.  A monograph about Lehr, Arc of Nature, was published by Hard Press Editions and Hudson Hills Press in the Spring of 2015.  In 2016, a major show was installed at Fairchild Gardens reflecting her love of nature and her interest in protecting the environment.  She went on to receive the Centennial Commission for a multimedia work at the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. In 2018, Lehr was invited to mount a one-person exhibition of her work at the MOCA Museum in North Miami. This critically-acclaimed project once again reflected her interest in the environment. Her most recent solo exhibition Mira Lehr: A Walk in the Garden, at the Jewish Museum of Florida-Florida International University, Miami, on view from October 15, 2019 through February 3, 2020, is receiving critical national praise.

Please save the date for the opening reception of MIRA LEHR: HIGH WATER MARK.

The artist will be in attendance.

Opening Reception
Friday, January 24, 2020

Members-only Preview
5:30–6:30 pm

Public Reception
6:30–8:00 pm

Free for members | $10 for Guests

Artist Talk & Curator Talk and Reception
Saturday, April 18, 2020 | 1 pm

First Friday Talk & Tour
Each First Friday fo the month | 11am


Mira, Lehr, Invisible Cities (detail), 2018
Brass, burned and dyed Japanese paper, lights, and fabric. 
Courtesy of the artist
Mira Lehr, Siren’s Song, 2017
Silver emulsion on panel, ignited gunpowder, burned and dyed Japanese paper, and acrylic.
Courtesy of the artist
Mira Lehr, Mixing Currents (detail),
Light bulbs, video projection with sound, and mirrored acrylic.
Courtesy of the artist
Mira Lehr, Mangrove Labyrinth (detail), 2018
Marine rope, steel, resin, burned Japanese paper, and latex paint. 
Courtesy of the artist
Mira Lehr, Magenta and Green Mangroves, 2019
Burned and dyed Japanese paper, ink, ignited fuses, and gunpowder on canvas. 
Courtesy of the artist
Mira Lehr, Creation, 2017
Silver emulsion on panel, ignited gunpowder, burned and dyed Japanese paper, and acrylic.
Courtesy of the artist

About the Museum
The Mennello Museum of American Art, owned and operated by the City of Orlando, is located on the beautiful shore of Lake Formosa in Orlando’s Loch Haven Cultural Park. The museum provides residents and visitors welcoming opportunities to understand and value creativity through innovative experiences with art further connecting it to nature and communal gathering. Our goal is to encourage creative and diverse experiences with art that nurtures audiences while reflecting the dynamic relationship between art and society.  In addition to housing the permanent collection of folk modernist Earl Cunningham, the museum presents temporary exhibitions that feature a broad range of American art from traditional to contemporary practices.

On view through January 12, 2020:

Edward Steichen: In Exaltation of Flowers

View all of our upcoming events:

The Mennello Museum is located at 900 E. Princeton Street, Orlando, FL 32803

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The Mennello Museum of American Art and its exhibitions are generously supported by the City of Orlando and Friends of The Mennello Museum of American Art. Additional funding is provided by Orange County Government through the Arts & Cultural Affairs Program and United Arts of Central Florida. Sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture

Jeremy Kemp
Marketing & Graphic Design Coordinator
Mennello Museum of American Art and Public Art, City of Orlando