Froid’Art puts Kingston artists on ice

The frozen art show aims to widen audience in its sixth year

Froid'Art will officially start on Jan. 17.

If you walk downtown this month, you might notice a series of ice-encased paintings have cropped up in local businesses’ storefronts.

Jan. 17 marks the first day of Froid’Art, an event that David Dossett, owner of Martello Alley in downtown Kingston, has been organizing for the past six years.

The outdoor ice exhibit consists of 21 paintings—made on plexiglass—that are individually encased in 300-pound ice enclosures and scattered throughout Kingston. The frozen art is painted mostly by artists who show their work at Martello gallery and can be found in front of Trailhead, Tara Natural Foods, and NORTHSIDE Espresso + Kitchen, to name a few. The point of the show is to be a walking art exhibit that people can follow along with. The event will continue until Kingston’s below-freezing temperatures give way to warmer weather.

The exhibit—inspired by his wife, who enjoys taking walks downtown—is meant to bring color to what Dossett refers to as the gray “Limestone City.” But what Dossett enjoys most about the event is, quite simply, the people.

“I love to see the faces of the people when they’ve discovered [the paintings],” Dossett said in a phone interview with The Journal. “It’s amazing how you can make such a big impact with such a simple idea.”

People have come from other provinces to see the ice displays—and for good reason. The event’s popularity has stretched far beyond just Kingston. The city of Lacombe, Alberta, is even hosting their very own Froid’Art-inspired ice sculpture exhibit this year, showcasing high school students’ art.

You can’t get the full effect of the exhibit without seeing it in person. Froid’Art is meant to be an immersive experience, encouraging its viewers to get their blood flowing and interact with Kingston’s historic downtown and local businesses, while also bringing some color to the streets.

“When you see [the art] up close, you think, ‘Oh my god it’s just amazing,’” said Dossett.

While online photos certainly don’t do the sculptures justice, they’re a viable option if you live outside of Kingston and still want to join in on the fun. Photos can be found on the Martello Alley Facebook page or Instagram account.

Despite the event’s popularity, there are still people living in Kingston who haven’t heard of Froid’Art. That’s why Dossett wants people who attend to invite their friends and share the event as much as possible. He wants everyone to have a chance to enjoy it.

The gallery owner wants to spread more awareness of the event among students in particular.

“A lot of Queen’s students, you know how busy they are, they’re studying and then they’ll go to the pub. But they may not see [the paintings] because of everything they’re focusing on.”

One appeal for students is that it’s free to attend, and it’s right downtown—minimal travel necessary. Martello Alley’s Facebook page offers a downloadable map of the various locations, or you can stop by the alley in person for a physical copy. The map lists the location of each piece, along with its name and artist. With the map in hand, people can take a self-guided walking tour of the exhibit to admire the work.

By night, the sculptures are lit up. The combination of the lights and the snow is, according to Dossett, the best part.

“That’s probably the best thing, when you see them, all lit up at night. It’s indescribable,” he said

Describing the first ice-encased art they ever put up, Dossett explained, “We moved it over, covered it in snow, and turned on the lights, and it was like magic.” 



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