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Headliner Art Basel Museum Shows Kick Off in Miami

November 21, 2019 Visit Florida No Comments Email Email

Art Basel Season Kicks Off at Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU: Mira Lehr: A Walk in the Garden Zachary Balber: Tamim Sunday Morning of Art Basel: Meet the Artists on Dec. 8th Located in South Beach at 301 Washington Avenue

Meet the Artists at the Annual Art Basel Brunch on Sunday, Dec. 8 at 10:00 a.m.

Jewish Museum of Florida FIU is located in South Beach, at 301 Washington Ave.

Mira Lehr:

A Walk in the Garden

Features ten monumental new paintings and 180 aerial sculptures that descend from the ceiling of the museum’s main sanctuary.

At the age of 85, Mira Lehr is creating more new works now than at any other period of her career. This new museum show for Art Basel Season emphasizes the artist’s reverence for nature and protecting the planet.

The exhibition also honors the 60th anniversary of Lehr’s return to Miami Beach from New York, which led to her championing women artists. “I am thrilled to celebrate my sixth decade as an artist in Miami Beach by showing my new work at the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU for Art Basel season,” said Mira Lehr. “Because this museum was originally built in the 1930s as the first synagogue on Miami Beach for Jewish residents who were discouraged from living north of fifth street, my story comes full circle as I look back on my own experiences as a Jewish child growing up in Miami Beach during the 1940s.”

Zachary Balber: Tamim

Zachary Balber uses portrait photography to uncover the camouflaged identity of some of Judaism’s most unconventional Jewish men.

The photographer, a rising star in Miami’s art scene who is fast gaining national acclaim, is Jewish himself and connected strongly with the men he photographed. Through this series, he re-connected with his own heritage. (pictured above is the artist, self-portrait).

This is the first time these photographs have been exhibited in full color, some are new and have never been shown. Some of the monumental images were printed as large as possible, to show the subjects at two or three times their human scale.

Since many of these men have serious tattoos, this creates the effect of transforming a portrait into a landscape experience for the viewer ‒ the markings across their flesh forge an explicit landscape.

Sand Bar, 54” x 72” mixed media, 2014—on loan phil keane

Mira Lehr: A Walk in the Garden

The artist recalls, as a child in the 1940s, walking by a sign that said ‘No Jews, No Dogs’ on her way to school each morning. “During the years 1947-1950, my family lived in the northern part of Miami Beach where not many Jewish families lived at that time. I remember seeing that terrible sign every day on a building in a secluded neighborhood street and thinking: when I grow up I’m going to do something so great that will make the people who created this sign change their minds. It makes me realize that although signs like that are not allowed anymore, there is an undercurrent of anti-Semitism that has always existed in the world. I hope that this changes, as people become more evolved,” adds Mira Lehr. Now, more than 70 years later, the artist has created powerful new work that calls attention to today’s pressing issues ─ saving the planet and protecting the environment.

Zachary Balber: Tamim

Tamim roughly translates from Hebrew as “perfect.”

The artist asked each of the men to wear his kippah (the head covering that Balber was Bar Mitzvahed in), however they saw fit.

“Our museum wanted to explore the subject of tattoos, because our many of our younger audiences were sharing their stories about how they were deliberating whether or not they should ink or not ink,” said the museum’s Executive Director, Susan Gladstone. “We wanted to identify a young, Florida Jewish artist who has a strong following among young art lovers, so that we could explore this subject through his art. We found Zachary Balber, his work is already in the permanent collections of prominent institutions and major collectors, and his series Tamim featured many young Jews with tattoos.”

Mira Lehr:

A Walk in the Garden

Her solo and group exhibitions number more than 300. She is often called “The mistress of light.”

“My creation of art has always been based on nature, but now I am more dedicated to ecology and saving the planet. We are all in a terrible dilemma now, the planet is suffering and is in danger. People need to be aware of the danger that is threatening all of us, and we have to work together to reverse this situation,” adds Lehr. Prior to her return to Miami Beach in 1960, Lehr studied and worked in New York as an artist, where she became friendly with some of America’s most prominent artists including: Joan Mitchell, Lee Krasner, Helen Frankenthaler, and Ludwig Sander. She studied with James Brooks, Ludwig Sander, Robert Motherwell, and within the Hans Hofmann circle.

Zachary Balber:

Tamim

Many of these men have serious tattoos, this creates the effect of transforming a portrait into a landscape experience.

(right: Typoe, by Zachary Balber

The markings across their flesh forge an explicit landscape. In Balber’s photographs, the men reveal themselves. They expose their problems, heritage, insecurities, fears and humanity. What followed was a mutual odyssey of reconnecting to their culture, for both the subjects and the photographer. Many of the subjects felt like outsiders, sharing common life challenges such as incarceration, addiction, recovery and rehab. Like Balber, they also felt estranged from their culture and their families. Despite their rough “Rambo-Jew” exteriors (as Balber calls them), through their gaze into his camera lens they reveal a surprising boyish innocence. The viewer cannot escape the humanity in these images.

Mira Lehr:

A Walk in the Garden

When Lehr moved back to Miami Beach in 1960, she was shocked at the lack of an art scene in Miami, especially the plight of women artists.

“Women artists at that time felt stranded and hopeless in Miami,” said Lehr. “I was determined to change that.” She then founded Continuum Gallery in 1960, one of the country’s first co-ops for women artists who were excluded from the male-dominated art world. Continuum grew and succeeded for more than 30 years, shining a spotlight on Miami Beach’s fledgling art scene, well before Art Basel would impact the area’s cultural landscape. Lehr convinced many of the famous masters from New York to visit Miami Beach, where they led workshops for her league of women artists and helped foster the evolution of art in Miami.

Zachary Balber:

Tamim

In these photographs they each stand proud for the camera and unashamed to be themselves – the meaning of Tamim. (right: Joshua, by Zachary Balber)

Through the course of his own similar life challenges, Balber met and helped these men, who also took him under their wing, as they worked together on bettering their lives. “I want to emphasize the tenderness of their gaze by enlarging the subjects beyond the size of traditional portraiture,” says Balber. “These photos are like my smoke-signals to the rest of my Jews out there who also feel like outsiders ‒ where are you?” added Balber. “I hope others who also feel estranged from their culture come to see this series, including other Jews who haven’t been inside a Temple in a long time because they feel like they don’t belong.” “My hope is that they feel more comfortable coming to an art exhibition, at this historic, beautiful Synagogue that means so much to the community and is now a gathering place for art.”

Mira Lehr:

A Walk in the Garden

Lehr’s new aerial installation of 180 sculptures was inspired by the beauty and majesty of the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU.

“I want viewers to feel like they are walking through an aerial garden of luminous, reflecting sculptures,’ said Lehr. One of Lehr’s new series of sculptures for this exhibition is based on the seven kinds of plants mentioned in the Torah. “It will be a holy garden, that takes people out of the actual world and transports them onto a spiritual plane,” adds Lehr. 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 ignites and explodes fuses, which burn holes and leave imprints on her layered paintings.

Zachary Balber: Tamim

These portraits cut through uncharted terrain.

As a child, his father took him to Israel and they visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.

This is where Balber was impacted by the power of photography.

There, he witnessed how photographers captured these stark, horrific realities and this life-changing moment inspired Balber to become a photographer.

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