Outdoor ice art exhibit Froid’Art could melt masterpieces away

Difficulty selling paintings may freeze event

Froid’Art is on exhibit now at Martello Alley.
Credit: 
Photo supplied by David Dosset

It’s the fifth year of David Dosset’s Froid’Art outdoor art exhibit—and it may be the last. 

Owner and curator of Martello Alley,  Dosset, ArtsSci ’83, puts on his outdoor art exhibit every winter—assuming the cold weather we’ve been experiencing this January sticks around. 

The festival is a huge undertaking, however, and Dosset isn’t certain it’ll return for another year. The paintings have to be purchased before he can send them off to be made, or else the festival loses him money. 

This year, he sold the final 12 paintings in the last two weeks before the festival was set to begin.  

In future years, Dosset said he’ll have to sell all the paintings earlier in the year if the festival is going to be able to run. He sold a total of 19 this year. This is the only art exhibit of its kind in Kingston, without Dosset, the city streets would’ve been kept grey and snowy. 

The coming years might see a return of bleaker winter streets if Dosset isn’t able to sell the paintings well in advance. 

Dosset got the idea for this unconventional exhibit five years ago when he went out walking in Kingston with his wife. 

Noticing the greyness of the street, he knew he wasn’t alone. Anybody who’s spent a winter in Kingston knows how bleak it can get. The city’s limestone buildings underneath a slate sky can make for gloomy evening walks.

Dosset decided to figure out a way to make his walk—and everybody else’s—more enjoyable. 

He already had experience running a gallery—and an unconventional one at that—through Martello Alley. Located on Wellington Street, the outdoor gallery is a bright, pedestrian-friendly invitation to view local art.

He found a company that specializes in making obscure ice products. The company, Iceculture—which once built a novelty truck out of ice—was the perfect solution to Dosset’s problem. 

Before sending pieces off to Iceculture, he commissions artists to make paintings on plexiglass—even customizable pieces for businesses that want one displayed in front of their buildings—then sends them off to Iceculture where they’re inserted into 300 pound blocks of ice. 

The blocks are then transported back to Kingston and distributed around the city. 

Residents can purchase the paintings for $200 then collect their new original piece of art once the ice melts. It’s a great way to celebrate the end of winter, according to Dosset.

All proceeds go to the creator of each piece. Dosset wanted to be sure this festival would improve Kingston by making brutal winters more enjoyable, and also by supporting local artists. 

For now, the exhibit thrives and can be seen along the waterfront. 

But with the spring, comes a possible end to the annual tradition that’s brightened the Kingston cityscape for the past five years. 

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