But if Ms. Beschta was rebellious, she was no punk-rock nihilist.
“Susan was that unusual artist who performed with spunk and drive on the stage of CBGBs, drawing all eyes to her, but remained devoid of ego, absent any need to push anyone else offstage,” Ms. Reed wrote in an email. She added, “She thought that creativity was its own reward.”
Susan Marie Beschta was born on April 21, 1952, in Appleton, Wis., to Gerald and Jean (Gericke) Beschta. After hitchhiking to New York, she enrolled as an undergraduate at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn with plans of becoming a painter and a fine-art photographer. During that time she met another aspiring artist, Jane Fire, and the two decided to investigate a more raucous form of art.
“I wanted to do something in a more populist way,” Ms. Beschta told Flavorwire. With fine art, she said, “I would only be able to sell it to rich people.”
After batting around the idea of starting a band with Ms. Fire and Mr. Ebony, a recent college graduate who had studied art history, they formed the Erasers, taking the name from a surrealistic detective novel by the French avant-garde writer Alain Robbe-Grillet.
After the band made its final appearance, at the Peppermint Lounge in Midtown in 1981, Ms. Beschta pursued a solo career, collaborating with composers like Rhys Chatham and Glenn Branca.
Eventually, however, she came to believe that she had accomplished all that she could with music and decided to chart a new path, entering the City University of New York School of Law and earning her degree in 1989.
Mr. Ebony, her former bandmate, said the move was not as improbable as it might have seemed. She had always been passionate about women’s rights, gay rights and racial equality, he said by email, and “thought that she could be more effective in bringing about change through the legal system — rather than from the compromised platform of the entertainment industry.”