As an artist, teacher, and gallery director, Gertrude Ann Youse, or Gay, as she was known to those close to her, devoted her considerable talent and energy toward enriching the artistic life of the Duxbury, Maine community. She moved to Duxbury during the late 1950s from Boston, where she had attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. As a student she was strongly influenced by Austrian expressionist, Oskar Kokoschka, who came to the museum school to give a talk and whose work was then being featured in Boston museum shows. Although she painted still life, portraits and landscapes throughout her career, she was best known for her seascapes of the coast of Maine.
From 1958 until 1968, she taught both children’s and adult classes at the Duxbury Art Association. Although she continued to teach privately out of her Church Street studio, Gay turned her attention to Helen Bumpus Gallery in 1968, when she was asked to be its first gallery director, a position she held for over twenty years. Some of the better-known artist whose work she exhibited were Lloyd Lillie, Jason Berger, Alice Neel, Harold Tovish, Mariana Pineda, Lois Tarlo, Jack Wolfe, Penelope Jencks, and two of her former teachers from the museum school, David Aronson and Karl Zerbe. In addition to seeking out the very best local regional artists, Gay tried to encourage emerging talent among Duxbury High School students by showing their work in the gallery as well. Many of her former students have become working artists or art educators, including Virginia Freyermuth, who currently heads the art department of the Duxbury schools. Wanting to recognize the pivotal role she played in inspiring a new generation of artists, friends, and former students established a perpetual scholarship in her name of the Duxbury High school graduate.
Exhibitions of Gay’s work include the Hess Gallery at Pine Manor College, the Helen Bumpus Gallery in Duxbury, and the Duxbury Art Complex Museum. The paintings and watercolors selected for these shows included images from Duxbury as well as Maine’s coast, which she never tired of painting. Following a long tradition of American artists who have been drawn to the state’s rugged beauty – Winslow Homer, Rockwell Kent, Marsden Hartley, and Andrew Wyeth to name some of the more prominent, Gay fell in love with the coast of Maine after her first trip to Corea, with Duxbury resident Evie Day. From the early 1970s until her death in 1994, Gay would spend her summers in Maine painting and teaching small outdoor workshops. The immediacy which characterizes the best of her work is due to the innumerable hours she spent working quickly en plein air.