Daria Deshuk

ARTISTIC TRIBUTE: A public memorial will be held April 22 for the artist and teacher Daria Deshuk at Guild Hall in East Hampton.

Deshuk died at her home in Bridgehampton at the age of 60 on March 9, according to her son Sam Deshuk Rivers, who declined to give further details about her death.

An East Village troubadour, Deshuk chronicled the neighborhood’s shifting landscape with her painting though others link her to her longtime companion, the late artist Larry Rivers. Growing up in Queens the daughter of a New York City taxi driver, Deshuk was always within sight of Manhattan. While earning her BFA in painting in 1978 at Parsons School of Design, Deshuk first met Rivers, who was teaching there. She went on to receive an MFA in painting from Hunter College. After first getting involved with Rivers at the age of 22, the two had a 15-year relationship and their son was born in 1985. She and her son divided their time between Manhattan and the Hamptons.

With an insider’s view of the downtown art scene in the early Eighties, Dushek was a member of P.S.122 Artist Space, where she worked and exhibited for 10 years. While her later work focused on self portraiture and the symbolism of yoga and Buddhism, her earlier paintings were much more slice-of-life style art from the Nineties and early 2000s, said Sam Rivers, a fine art photographer who lives in Annapolis, Md. He intends to have an exhibition of his mother’s work in the Hamptons this summer or fall. “Her New York scene paintings pre-dated a lot of what is out there in terms of the current view of what is and isn’t the Lower East Side of Manhattan. She really got the image of how the city was changing,” said Rivers, adding that artists like Eric Fischl have publicly acknowledged Deshuk’s beach style of painting as an inspiration for his work.

Deshuk was a vibrant supporter of Earth Celebrations, the group dedicated to protecting the Lower East Side’s community gardens in the late Nineties and early 200os. Those green shoots were planted in empty lots where buildings once stood as a way to rejuvenate the neighborhood – an unimaginable necessity given today’s rampant commercialization of the neighborhood where an Ian Schrager hotel-condo project in a Herzog de Meuron building is nearing completion. Deshuk also helped with the group’s annual Earth Day parade, designing some of the costumes for participants and making paintings of the actual events. “It was the Nineties in the East Village. The artists were wild back then. We didn’t really make rules up. We just went out there to do what we wanted to do to fix things,” Rivers said.

This month’s memorial will feature remarks from artists Linda Griggs and Kate Kennedy. A one-night exhibition of Deshuk’s work will also be on view at the Museum at Guild Hall in East Hampton. Rivers said of his mother, “She was always telling me, ‘Always be kind to everyone.’ That was her mantra. We’re expecting a large number at the memorial. It was a large community that was touched by Daria’s sweet manner and open arms.”

In lieu of flowers, Rivers asked that donations be made to the Advocacy Treatment Center in Arlington, Va.

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