Local doctor's love of art draws him to Jewish faith — and his Muslim … – Times Union

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Sacred Dreams, an aerial work of art honoring the Jewish diaspora, was donated by Loundonville’s Dr. Robert Feldman to the Jewish Museum of Florida, a building that was once the first Jewish synagogue in Miami Beach.
Sacred Dreams is composed of 183 strange, richly colored shapes that float near the synagogue’s dome, sparkling like stained glass. But they were individually cut by hand from paper-thin sheets of jewel toned resins. Artist Mira Lehr singed the edges of each piece with a small torch to make them look as if they had been through a fierce, cosmic journey and survived, beauty intact.
Artist Mira Lehr divides her time between her home near Tanglewood and Miami and her home state of Florida. Loudonville doctor Robert Feldman owns several of her pieces. They both feel their Jewish faith shapes their artistic impulses.
Berkshires and Miami artist Mira Lehr created an aerial art installation that is an homage to the Jewish diaspora. The art is made of 183 individual pieces handcut from transparent resin. She used a small blowtorch to singe  the edges of each piece. Loudonville doctor Robert Feldman owns several of her works and financed this piece which Lehr, internationally known for her environmental art, wanted to resemble a mystical garden.
Loudonville’s Dr. Robert Feldman (left), is an art collector who generously shares hs collection–which includes several pieces by environmental artist Mira Lehr–with the public via traveling exhibitions. Art helped bring him closer to Jewish faith and his true love (right), Nada Farhat, a Muslim pathologist and professor. She will bring her Islamic art to Feldman’s home when they marry.
COLONIE – The art resembles a supernatural garden whose flowers float midair, shimmering and sparkling in rich colors. Some viewers say that the 183 fragments hung all around the synagogue’s ceiling look like the beautiful flotsam of an alien spacecraft. Environmental artist Mira Lehr created this aerial art named “Sacred Dreams.” 
She says both interpretations are right.
“When I was working, I imagined an aerial garden,” said Lehr, a world-renowned painter and sculptor who lives near Tanglewood. “I was also thinking of the Jewish diaspora. I singed each of the 183 pieces at the edges with a small torch to make them look as if they’d been through a cosmic journey — and their beauty and light survived.”
Sacred Dreams has an estimated value is $300,000. Lehr’s work was financed by Loudonville art collector and ophthalmologist Dr. Robert Feldman, who owns several of Lehr’s paintings. Lehr’s work is often displayed in Manhattan’s New Museum, the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, the Getty and galleries across her Florida home state. 
Lehr and Feldman are Jewish and feel strongly that their faith shapes their connection to art.
Feldman donated Sacred Dreams to the Jewish Museum of Florida, a historic architectural gem that was once Miami Beach’s first synagogue. The building is topped by a huge dome with a sky blue interior. Sacred Dreams was strung on from the high ceiling with invisible wires all around the dome. 
The 183 shapes glitter as brightly as the synagogue’s stained glass windows but are made from transparent resins that Lehr poured into wafer-thin sheets then hand-cut the exotic shapes. 
Like Expressionist Marc Chagall, who created paintings and stained glass art, her work is always luminous. The New York Times and 60 Minutes anointed her the “mistress of light.” Long ago, art critics dubbed Chagall “the emissary of light.” 
Feldman describes himself as a “secular Jew” who’s been reconnecting with his faith by studying with a young Colonie rabbi. Feldman owns several of Lehr’s pieces. 
“To me, creating art and appreciating both come from spiritual impulses; Art has a soul,” Feldman said. “Loving art, beauty, craftsmanship is healing especially in these deeply broken times.”
The pandemic inspired Feldman to share more of his remarkable collection with the public by lending pieces to exhibitions that traveled to colleges and museums. One of his exhibitions will eventually make its way to Albany’s Russell Sage College. It’s called “Shifting Gaze: A Reconstruction of the Black & Hispanic Body in Contemporary Art.”
Feldman’s art and life are now enriched by true love, Nada Farhat, a Muslim pathologist from Saudi Arabia who’s also a professor at Mt. Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine. They met on Bumble, the online dating site for highly educated singles. Feldman was delighted that his sweetheart shared his love of art.
“Her name means ‘early morning, dawn mist’ in Arabic, isn’t that beautiful?” Feldman said, his eyes like a man in love. “When she moves here from New York City, she’ll bring along beautiful Islamic art she’s collected. When our lives merge, our art will, too.”
Lynda Edwards is a reporter, editor of Faith & Values and content editor. She began her career at PBS Frontline and freelancing for The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Washington Monthly and Miami Herald. She was a Nightly Business Report associate producer at PBS and worked for The Village Voice in New York and Miami, The Associate Press and Gannett and newspapers in Arizona, South Florida, Tennessee and Colorado. You can reach her at LyEdwards@timesunion.com or 518-454-5403.


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