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Saturday, September 30, 2023
2:00 - 5:00pm (Central time)
Gwen Impson passed away on Saturday, September 16, 2023 at the age of 77.
Born on February 26, 1946 in New Orleans, she was the firstborn of Thelma Leonard Gelis and Gaston J. B. Gelis. Gwen lived a full and beautiful life.
Gwen is survived by her devoted husband John W. Impson, loving children, Brett J. L. Landry (Sanjana), Amy E. DiMaggio (Andrew) and step-daughter, Denise Smith (JT). Gwen was known as Granny to her three grandchildren: Raj Landry, Meera Landry, and Anna DiMaggio. She leaves behind a brother, Douglas Gelis (Nancy), a sister, Tahmi Keir (Ralph 1949-2018), and was preceded in death by her parents.
In her youth, Gwen lived in Thibodaux, Monroe, Destrehan, and New Orleans. She graduated from Dominican High School in 1964. After marriage and motherhood, Gwen found her passion for the arts as a painter. This was a passion that she integrated into all aspects of her life, including her children’s schools and multiple projects for the City of New Orleans. Gwen lived in the French Quarter and participated in local art exhibitions. Gwen’s life changed forever when she met John W. Impson, and they were married in 1992. With John’s support and encouragement, Gwen pursued her art career full-time, expanding into printmaking, Gyotaku, and petroglyphs. While living in Virginia, she was an active member at the Torpedo Factory Art Center, and her artwork was exhibited at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda and the Watergate Hotel. She began teaching printmaking with a variety of techniques in the D.C. area. Her works on Abraham Lincoln garnished national recognition in 1998.
After John retired, they moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast and welcomed her mother Thelma into their home. Gwen opened her own studio, The Turquoise Turtle where local artists could attend classes or utilize her studio’s custom made printmaking press. It also provided John a space to mat and frame artwork for the community. When John started sprinting competitively in the Senior Olympics, they enjoyed their travels to local, regional, and national events. Gwen was his constant cheerleader and supporter through his many competitions and encouraged family and friends to cheer him on. As Granny, she was involved in her grandchildren’s lives by providing them with a special place for talent shows, endless arts projects, trips to the beach, and bunny cakes. She was proud to witness each of them graduate from college and pursue their own passions. Gwen was passionate about cultivating the arts on the Gulf Coast and in 2003 started “The Arts, Hancock County.” She served as its first president and remained an active and contributing member for the remainder of her life. Post Hurricane Katrina, Gwen worked with fellow artists and collaborated with the Chamber of Commerce and other benefactors to match contributions to restore the arts community. In 2006, the Washington Post interviewed her about The Arts, Hancock County artists being hosted at the Clinton Presidential Library. Gwen said “To be able to create again after going through something as horrendous as this makes you feel alive again." For all of us it is about finding joy and creating beauty after losing her all too soon. We are more alive because of the life she shared with all of us and lived so fully. Gwen was a loving, talented, and giving person as a wife, mom, granny, sister, aunt, and friend. She loved all those around her; she was generous, providing meals, roses, and encouraging words. Gwen made life better. She will be missed by all who knew her. Her love for others, the beauty in everything, and art is her legacy. A special thanks to the doctors and staff at UMC in New Orleans and Janet Densmore and Jerome Anderson.
A Celebration of Life honoring Gwen will be held on Saturday, September 30, 2023 from 2:00 until 5:00 p.m. at The Arts, Hancock County: 405 Blaize Avenue, MS 39502. (228-342-4521). In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in her name to The Arts, Hancock County at the above address.