Gloria Scher, painter, sculptor, ardent progressive activist and a longtime seasonal resident of Aquinnah, died unexpectedly Jan. 26 in New York. She was 87.
She was born in the Bronx, N.Y. on June 21, 1925, a daughter of the late Sam and Edith Friezer. Pretty and petite, after graduation from Walton High School she began a career in modeling. But she abandoned it as a young woman for study, first, of sculpture in wood, stone and clay, then of painting. An interest in political activism also began in her young years when she distributed leaflets for Democratic Socialist politician Vito Marcantonio of New York. Later, she became an outspoken opponent of the use of nuclear weapons and was the representative to the United Nations from the Center for Defense Information.
She and her then-husband, Martin Scher, began visiting the Vineyard in the 1950s, at the Gay Head home of her cousin, Gloria Levitas. In the 1960s the Schers bought a house of their own on Oxbow Road in Gay Head. In her studio there, she happily painted abstract designs in vivid colors, noting that she found colors magical and that she used primary colors to investigate the geometry of line. She exhibited at the Louisa Gould Gallery in Vineyard Haven, the Field Gallery in West Tisbury, the Brooklyn Museum, the Saatchi, Broome Street and Noho Galleries and the National Arts Club in New York. She was a recipient of that club’s President’s Medal in 2010. She also had shows at Fairleigh Dickinson University and the Westbeth Gallery in New York city. Her work was in both public and private collections in this country and France.
Reviewing her Field Gallery exhibition, which was titled “Pure Paintings,” the late Rose Treat wrote:
“And that is exactly what they are — adventures in pure art. There is a pristine quality in the way she handles lines and colored shapes which, despite their intensity, are calming and soothing to the viewer. Each painting is like a beautifully-cut jewel reflecting its colors in rectangular forms. Subtly and with great economy, Gloria Scher leads the eye along a line and into blocks of color that are a pure delight.”
A reviewer of one of her New York shows found elements of Mark Rothko in her work.
Although her Vineyard life was primarily concerned with her family and her painting, she enjoyed the beach below the family’s house and entertained with enthusiasm. Social activist that she was, she numbered other social activists among her friends, and the late Bella Abzug, feminist and New York congresswoman, was a sometime guest. Among her friends in the art field were Jose de Rivera and Roy Gussow.
In New York, she lived until recently in Peter Cooper Village but had moved to Kendall-on-Hudson in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. a few months ago,
She is survived by two sons, Peter, of Manhattan, and Michael Scher of New Rochelle, N.Y., and two grandchildren, Roxanne Lerner and Travis Scher.
A funeral service was held at The Riverside Church in New York city. Contributions in her memory may be made to the Center for Constitutional Rights, 666 Broadway, 7th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10012.