Janet Macpherson. Vegetable Lamb, 2014. Clay, black slip. Photo: Ryan Legassicke.

Stopping By Woods

Gary Evans, Robert Hengeveld, Gwen MacGregor, Janet Macpherson, Monica Tap, Doreen Wittenbols

Curated by Curated by Patrick Macaulay

September 24 – September 24, 2020



We must stop and observe. Even at times when it seems to make the least sense, we must take a moment to look and appreciate. Stopping by Woods refers to Robert Frost’s poem, but more importantly it reiterates a value advanced by many artists: that one must stop and investigate to fully understand the world and its complexity. Frost was famous for linking the natural world to human needs and desires. For us as Canadians, there is a strong connection between the environment and the construction of personal narrative.

Stopping by Woods allows the space in the daily journey to see beyond mundane concerns and consider the sensory circumstance. For at least the time it takes to appreciate the substance and meaning of our world, we must not think of “stopping” as eulogy, but as a promise of artistic candor.

– Patrick Macaulay, Director, Visual Arts


Gary Evans

This work comes out of my experience of the natural world and my interest in historical painted depictions of that world, most recently, the landscape paintings of Peter Paul Rubens. What I find striking about these sources, and that I investigate in my paintings, is the idea of energy as both a thing that is present in the world and yet also generated by our perception of representations of landscape. I try to make imagery that takes the material forms of nature and shuffles them, re-presenting them in a way that allows the viewer to experience the image on both conscious and unconscious levels. The painting becomes a space for an image that points outward to the world and reaches inward to the feelings and thoughts of the active mind.

–Gary Evans

Gary Evans was born in England and resides in Alliston, Ontario. His work in the landscape genre challenges ideas of perception and experience and is noted for its colour and often hallucinatory sensibility. Exhibiting professionally since 1995, he is represented by Paul Petro Contemporary Art in Toronto.


Robert Hengeveld

My art practice manifests itself in many different forms. Over the past several years, it has been directed toward exploring and experimenting with our preconceptions of the world around us. This has often taken shape through the manipulation of familiar environments or common experiences: a rotating tree, a floating shopping cart, or a street lamp that occasionally breaks out into a flickering Morse code, only to return to its normal occupation of habitual illuminating. In more recent works, this exploration has taken shape in the creation of synthetic environments which both mimic and mock the natural environment to which they make reference.

The works often hover somewhere between reality and artifice, fact and fiction. Through a shift in scale, material, context, giving sound to the silent object, or through the animation of the ordinarily inert, the work takes aspects of the everyday and gives them a subtle kick into the unfamiliar. These subtle shifts create a spectacle similar to the freak shows of years past where our preconceptions of the real are challenged. We are left to negotiate between our memory and understanding of how the world works, and an opposing current experience of it.

It is in their proximity to the real, in the blurred boundary between fact and fiction, that these works make their connection; where one’s understanding of the world is challenged and their perception is placed in juxtaposition to their preconceptions.

– Robert Hengeveld

Robert Hengeveld is an installation and multi-media artist whose work explores the boundaries between reality and fiction, and where we find ourselves within that relationship. He is currently living and working in Toronto. He completed his MFA at the University of Victoria in 2005 and studied at the Ontario College of Art and Design. He began his art practice at Georgian College, where he received a Certificate and Diploma in Fine Arts. Hengeveld recently finished a three-year artist residency at the University of Guelph in the School of Environmental Science. Some recent and upcoming exhibitions include Opinion Maker (London, UK), MacDonald Stewart Art Centre (Guelph), Eastern Edge (St. John’s), EyeLevel Gallery (Halifax), and Mulherin Pollard Projects (NYC).

Robert Hengeveld is represented by Katharine Mulherin Contemporary

The artist acknowledges the support of the Ontario Arts Council.

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Gwen MacGregor

This video, Going, created in 2009, was completed during a two month residency in France. It is composed of still photographs taken in the same spot every few days as the bare trees came into bud and spring foliage appeared. By reversing the series in a stop-motion dissolve, MacGregor transforms the fertile unfolding of nature over time, simulating instead a gradual defoliation that reveals the ominous presence of nuclear cooling towers visible beyond the rows of trees.

Gwen MacGregor is a Toronto-based artist working in installation, video, photography and drawing. She has received awards such as the Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts Artist of the Year and the Canada Council International Studio in New York. Her work is in a number of collections including the Art Gallery of Ontario, Oakville Galleries, Artbank, and the Royal Bank Collection. Recent projects include participation in The Santa Fe International New Media Festival and an exhibition at New York City’s Dorsky Gallery and Curatorial Programs.

MacGregor has an Honours BA from York University, a Master’s Degree in Cultural Geography from the University of Toronto and is pursuing a PhD in Cultural Geography. She recently published the article “The Future of Toronto’s Nuit Blanche” in the journal Art and the Public Sphere published by Intellect Press and has a forthcoming chapter on Nuit Blanche coming out in the book Geographies of Urban Public Art to be published by Ashgate. MacGregor is represented by MKG127 in Toronto.



Janet Macpherson

I have a recurring dream about a man from the woods. He and I stare at each other as we walk along opposite sides of a dark road. He nods his head and I know what he means and I wake up.

This work was made in a small studio tucked away behind a big tree in Berlin, Germany. The view from the window is a landscape of leaves. Green leaves on branches and orange leaves on the ground. The leaves filter the light and obscure the path and shelter a family of hedgehogs. In the afternoon it gets dark and the leaves change into new things. Forms that grow from the trees and piles of leaves loom large, enthrall and frighten, but remain in that moment before the dream ends and I wake up.

– Janet Macpherson

Janet Macpherson earned her Bachelor degree in philosophy from York University, and studied ceramics at Sheridan College. She holds an MFA from Ohio State University. She has been the recipient of many grants and awards, including a research grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, the 2013 Winifred Shantz Award for Ceramics, and the RBC Emerging Artists Studio Set-up Award. Following a three-year residency in the Craft & Design Studio at Harbourfront Centre, Macpherson recently completed a ten-week residency at Zentrum für Keramik in Berlin, Germany. She currently works from her studio in Toronto.

The artist acknowledges the support of the Winifred Shantz Award for Ceramics




Monica Tap

Paseo I-VI is a suite of six paintings that document a short segment along the Camino Frances that I walked in 2012. The breadth of the logging road cutting through the forest appeared to be about the same width as the gallery that represents my work in Toronto. With a possible exhibition in mind, and tongue firmly in cheek, I shot three pairs of facing images, camera set to black and white to better capture the stark Spanish light.

Later, when the paintings were well underway, I looked into the precise location where I had initially captured the source images. Just one kilometer further along the Camino is the Monumento de los Caídos (Monument to the Fallen) that was erected by the families of three hundred people who had supported the republican coup against General Francisco Franco at the beginning of the Spanish civil war. They had been assassinated in these woods.

– Monica Tap

Monica Tap is an artist whose many activities involve exploring questions of time and representation in painting. Over the past ten years, her canvases, which are conceptual and systematic investigations into the codes of pictorial illusionism and perception, have been exhibited in Canada, New York and London, England. She is the recipient of many grants and awards, including from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for her project, “Translation as a Strategy of Renewal in Painting.” She is a Professor in the School of Fine Art and Music at the University of Guelph. Tap is represented by MKG127 in Toronto.

The artist acknowledges the support of the Ontario Arts Council.

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Doreen Wittenbols

Cancer & Canada are the initial impetus behind the Souvenir series. During a recent artist residency on the Toronto Islands, I wanted to reconnect to this country where I grew up, through working from the landscape. Meanwhile, on the mainland, my best friend was lying in a hospital fighting the battle of his life.

Looking at fallen trees and tree stumps, I begin each painting in a formal way and then created a landscape within these formations from the woods. Some are quite abstract or take on bodily, organ-like shapes. Others seem to form a shelter, in an attempt to keep it – the landscape – together.

Sometimes a palm replaces a pine, as if referencing a memorable vacation spot, maybe the only way I now connect with Canada – as a souvenir of my past. These landscapes could be anywhere, and are about heartache and the loss of looking forward.

– Doreen Wittenbols

Doreen Wittenbols is a Dutch-Canadian visual artist working primarily in the tradition of figurative painting. Her practice explores big themes surrounding love, sex, and death. Personal experience, and accounts from friends are often the starting point for her work. She employs places, the landscape and objects as metaphors for vulnerability. Upon graduating from OCAD University, she was awarded the Governor-General’s academic medal. Thereafter, Wittenbols completed her MFA at Concordia University. After finishing two Dutch artist residencies she relocated to the Netherlands, making Amsterdam home. Alongside her solo practice she is also one-half of Ortelius Drew, a collaborative, mobile, performative drawing project.



The artist acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.



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