Joyce Ruth Silver, Artist and Therapist

Sept. 4, 1933 - MArch 5, 2015
Joyce Ruth Silver, Sept. 4, 1933 - MArch 5, 2015

Joyce Ruth Silver, 81, a psychotherapist who had an early career as an artist working in jewelry, textiles, and paint, died at her New York City home on March 5. A part-time Water Mill resident, she had had cancer for two years.

Ms. Silver began working as a psychotherapist with at-risk youth in a drug treatment center in the city and then established a private practice, which she maintained until her death. She graduated from the Bioenergetic Institute in 1979 and received a Master’s of Social Work from Yeshiva University in 1996. She taught bioenergetic therapists in Brazil, Germany, and France.

Her family said she was “a fearless pioneer in many areas of her life” and “lived her life as she painted — in bright colors and broad strokes.” She was among the first artists to locate in SoHo, living in a loft that had been a carpentry shop, which she filled with art and artifacts from around the world. She lived in Spain in the 1960s, had biked along the Great Wall of China in the 1980s, hiked through East African villages, and traveled to Egypt and Israel. She could often be found wearing bright orange and turquoise, her family said, and “never hesitated to speak her mind or thwart convention.” She was “fiercely independent, with a will of steel,” they said.

She was born on Sept. 4, 1933, in Cambridge, Mass., a daughter of the former Iris Alpert and Irving Silver. A year later, her parents moved to Queens. Her love of art was nurtured at Washington Irving High School in Manhattan, from which she graduated before earning a certificate of art from Cooper Union and a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts from the University of New Mexico.

Ms. Silver’s family said that her creative energies and love of Judaism converged in her participation in Beit Midrash, a community of artists who produce artistic interpretations of sacred Jewish texts at the Skirball Center of Temple Emanuel in New York. She had dined with members of the Jewish community at an Istanbul synagogue in 2012 and, in recent years, attended services during the summer at the Conservative Synagogue of the Hamptons. 

A member of the Artists Alliance of the Hamptons and the Artists Circle in New York, she showed her paintings, which she said were inspired by nature and its capacity to nourish the soul, at the Crazy Monkey Gallery in Amagansett, Ashawagh Hall in Springs, the Southampton Arts Center, and the M-55 Gallery in New York City.

At the Water Mill house she built, where she spent weekends and an August vacation for 35 years, she enjoyed tending her garden. She and her husband, Fred W. Oser, with whom she spent her last 18 years, met at the Metropolitan Opera, when they were seated side by side. Her family said she was community-oriented and had numerous longtime friends. 

Besides her husband, of Water Mill and New York, Ms. Silver is survived by a daughter, Shoshana (Soshi) K. Cook of Ithaca, N.Y. Her family said she took her final breath at the side of her daughter, who was “the greatest joy of her life.” Two stepdaughters, Corey Oser of Washington, D.C., and Mandy Oser Bracken of New York City, and a step-grandson also survive.

  A funeral was held at the Plaza Jewish Community Chapel in Manhattan on March 10, with burial following at Trinity Church Cemetery and Mausoleum, also in New York City.

Memorial contributions have been suggested to the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons, P.O. Box 901, Wainscott 11975.