A new exhibit, “Horizons,” by Kari Friestad, is on display at the KickstART Gallery & Shop through March 28.

A new exhibit, “Horizons,” by Kari Friestad, is on display at the KickstART Gallery & Shop through March 28.

Photo by Jonathan Shead

Farmington art exhibit explores ‘Horizons’

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published March 11, 2020

 “Cumulonimbus Oil on canvas,” left, and “Pathway Oil on canvas,” right, are in the exhibit.

“Cumulonimbus Oil on canvas,” left, and “Pathway Oil on canvas,” right, are in the exhibit.

Photo by Jonathan Shead


FARMINGTON — A new artist exhibit is now on display at the KickstART Farmington Gallery & Shop, 33304 Grand River Ave., through March 28.

The exhibit, titled “Horizons,” was created by South Bend, Indiana, resident and Orlando, Florida, native Kari Friestad.

Her works, oil paintings on canvas and panel, depict somewhat abstract yet interpretable scenes of horizons that Friestad has found along many of the waterfronts she’s come to know in Michigan and Florida.

Friestad has been painting professionally for about a decade, she said. She currently works as a painting and drawing professor at Andrews University, in Berrien Springs, Michigan, where she also received her undergraduate degrees — a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in visual art. She graduated from Kendall College of Art and Design, in Grand Rapids, with a Master of Fine Arts in painting.

After finishing an intensive study during her master’s program and feeling a bit homesick, Friestad found herself reflecting on the similarities and differences between the two states where she’s spent most her life, yearning for an escape from life’s busyness.

In those moments, she has always returned to the water.

“There’s a location in Florida that was an inspiration for a lot of the pieces. New Smyrna Beach. … My family has been going there for years,” she said. “I would get up and tell my mom I was going to church and end up at the beach. I would be there for hours. I kind of used it as an escape. That’s where I was going if I needed to regroup and find some separation from whatever I was going through and to connect with nature.”

Friestad said some paintings, such as “Release” and “Cumulonimbus,” were inspired by horizons in Michigan.

Her hope is to provide viewers with that same sense of serenity and escape, to take them to a place that is equally comforting and reflective. She also hopes her pieces invoke feelings of optimism and progress toward the future.

“For me, I was creating these universal horizons that were something I felt I could connect with other people on, because anybody can see the horizon where they’re located,” she said. “It was this symbol of something you look at when you’re driving or on a boat, where you can see this kind of continuation. … I was thinking about the future and this idea of just being hopeful.”

With flowing, blended lines, textures that invoke a sense of movement, and complementary blues, purples and pinks, there is a calming effect some viewers may find in Friestad’s paintings.

Juxtaposed with this are hues of orange, bleeding from underneath; feelings of warmth; and yearning for the sun to return, for a brighter tomorrow.

Her use of colors and inspiration behind seaside creations comes from artist John Evan, she said. She is also “pretty heavily influenced” by Georgia O’Keeffe and Barnett Newman.

Friestad has shown “Horizons” once before in a larger gallery among other pieces of her work, though she said the grand opening at the KickstART Gallery Feb. 21 felt more successful  — the KickstART Gallery and its many windows, she said, really add and interact with her exhibit in a positive way.

Aj Cooke, the volunteer curator for the KickstART Gallery, was drawn to Friestad’s work because she felt it would be a “good fit” for what she thinks residents of Farmington want to see at a fine art gallery.

“Her work is academic in oil painting and representational enough, while also being expressive with the brush strokes, so I thought it might be a good fit that way,” Cooke said, adding that she wants to curate exhibits from local, regional and national artists, as well.

For more information, visit kickstartfarmington.org.