Due to COVID-19, this exhibition at the Chapel Gallery has been cancelled.
It is available online on our Facebook and Instagram accounts where you can
see the work and read the artist's comments.



Magical Tulips


Paintings by Gwendolyn Boyes-Sitler
April 4 - June 6

Searching for the Light is a way of life for Gwendolyn Boyes-Sitler and and has been for most of her life, although she has not necessarily put that name to it.

“I look for light and I would say sometimes feel desperate for it in every aspect of my life. It is an interesting dynamic that occurs. The more you search for it, the more you find it. It is inspirational,” remarks Gwen whose studio is located on the third floor of her Vankoughnet home and looks out over trees and down into her water garden. “It comes in many forms like a flash of light in the darkness. It could be the smile of a child, a warm embrace of a loved one, an unexpected way of viewing a familiar landscape that you have passed many times and in a moment it has changed, like an antique oddity that’s been tucked away or a familiar object that takes on new meaning. It may be an unexpected gift from a friend that shows they get who you are. Searching for the light is when out of the ordinary and the way you have always done it, a new thought or idea comes to mind and it changes everything. It’s an inspiration. It gives you the courage to change and do it a new way.”

Free Spirit, Muskoka

The paintings in her exhibition covers a wide spectrum of subjects. Diversity, boldness and colour are important aspects to Gwen. “I change dramatically in subject matter from painting to painting. My landscapes are an artistic journey through the sun-kissed majestic shores of the St. Lawrence River to the rocky banks of the Black River, always searching for the light. I capture a wide array of Canadian scenes,” describes Gwen who graduated from the University of Toronto and worked as a dental hygienist on and off for twenty-five years. After her first six months on the job, Gwen broke her wrist and while recovering, her mother provided her with some paints to keep her occupied. Gwen eventually returned to work but her interest in painting never waned.

“In this dazzling show, I continue my creative journey through the rugged Ontario landscape, charming streets of old Quebec, the gentle country side of the Maritimes and onto the historical beauty of Newfoundland. I love Muskoka, and particularly the little Village of Vankoughnet where I live. But I also have a great passion for Quebec where my family and I lived for a number of years. We return each year to an island just outside of Quebec City, Ile D’ Orleans, which brings a deep sense of belonging to me. Although I do not have relatives there now, several generations ago, my ancestors arrived from Scotland and settled there. I am also drawn particularly to floral paintings and have in this show a painting, inspired by a gift from a friend, entitled The Vintage Shawl. When I first saw the shawl, my immediate thought was whether I could interpret the idea and develop a painting from it. My paintings depict local scenes of walking along the Black River, churches in the Village, flowers by the roadside, as well as landscapes from the Maritimes and Newfoundland.”

Vintage Barn, Ile D’ Orleans, Quebec

Maison Blanche

For every solo show Gwen does, she has what she calls her signature painting. It is a painting that depicts the theme and yet hopefully catches the interest of the viewers. For this exhibition, she chose the theme, searching for the light, but struggled to exactly get the subject matter that would best define her idea. “About three o’clock in the morning, I woke up, sat bolt upright, and I had the exact vision in my mind of what I would paint,” explains Gwen who has met many people over the years who has given her inspiration and encouragement such as Scarborough artists Kay Long and Doris McCarthy. “I am not a portrait painter but I had the idea of doing a partial self-portrait. It was a flash of light in the darkness. In the morning, I put on my black beret, my red alpaca cape and my dark glasses. My husband took a couple of photos, and from those, but mostly from my nighttime vision, I conceived the painting that would represent my theme. Well, I had fun. I sketched that painting and then began. I did not stop the whole day until I had it finished. Whether it is a portrait, a caricature or a whimsical painting, it captured my theme perfectly. It is me searching for the light”.

The Gentle Giant, Old Bobcaygeon Road, Haliburton

For Gwen, painting is a form of story-telling. Her mother was a painter and her father a story teller. She grew up in a family where art and story-telling were a way of life. “Painting is really a form of story-telling. My mom was a painter and my dad was a story teller. I grew up in a big family where art and story-telling were a way of life,” explains Gwen. These two art forms came together when Gwen authored and illustrated her book, The Winnie Stories, which was presented at the Chapel Gallery. “It was a great opportunity to display my twelve original paintings of life here in the Village of Vankoughnet during the 1950s from the perspective of a young girl,” says Gwen who received art training at Seneca College, Mount Royal Art Centre and Cedar Ridge Creative Centre and since 1991 has been teaching art classes at her Cherish Creek Studio. In 2004, she was recognized as a Canadian Artist by the National Art Gallery. The only other Muskoka born artist who has previously received this recognition was Harley Boyes, a first cousin of her father.

Preparing for this show has required that Gwen do a lot of reflection on not only her painting and teaching but also on her whole philosophy of life. “It is my hope that as I revel in my search to capture the light, I may ultimately enable others to discover that light through my paintings,” discloses Gwen who paints five to seven hours a day and loves every minute and believes that her art is continually changing. “The more I paint, the greater my sense of freedom, confidence, boldness of colour and composition becomes more evident. My passion for painting is greater now than ever.”

Open Mic at the Duchess, 
Old Markham Village

Mad Rock Trail 
Bay Roberts, Newfoundland

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Located at 15 King Street in Bracebridge, the gallery is open year-round, Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm. It is closed during the last week of September and the second week of October as well as between Christmas and New Year’s Days. Please check the Calendar of Events for the actual dates. For a map, please follow this link.

Exhibitions are booked one year in advance.  To learn how to apply for a show, please follow this link: Exhibition Application.

The Chapel Gallery was opened in September, 1989. Housed in a reconstruction of the first Presbyterian Church in Bracebridge, the Chapel Gallery hosts exhibitions of art and craft by our members and other local and provincial artists. Exhibitions are selected by the Gallery Committee and change every three to four weeks.

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