Gay has been overlooked in the village as one of its artists, although he lived in Bronxville for seventeen years until his death in 1931. He studied painting in Chicago under Paul Brown, a well-known marine artist, and the landscapist Henry Elkins. Gay mastered both genres, particularly in watercolor; his oil paintings are rare. “Mr. Gay’s reading of Sky and Sea in his Marines – is their inseparability…. [He paints] his landscapes with poetic perception and strong, rich interpretation,” wrote one reviewer.
Crashing Waves was commissioned by Bronxville resident William Aubuchon for his wife in 1930. The newly finished paint- ing was presented to the family while they were at Lawrence Hospital following a serious car accident as an attempt to raise the spirits of the patients. The presentation turned out to be ill-timed. With no medical insurance and the physical and emotional trauma from the accident, Mr. Aubuchon graciously accepted and paid for the work, but never really became attached to it. Crashing Waves remained with William’s son, Norbert, who recalls frequently visiting Gay’s 100 Kraft Avenue studio/apartment with his parents. “Such visits became social events.”