Authors are taught to write what they know. Artist Nancy Friese grew up living what she creates.
Friese, arguably North Dakota’s finest landscape artist, recently purchased her great- grandfather’s homestead near Buxton. It was there that her grandfather Ben Huset became known as the Weatherman of the Great Plains for his annual Ben Huset’s Forecast, a Farmer’s Almanac-type reference guide that was once the veritable bible for Dakotas agriculture.
As a native North Dakotan, Friese grew up knowing all about the power that lurked on the horizon. “It seems like all North Dakota conversations begin with the weather,” notes North Dakota Museum of Art director Laurel Reuter, “and Nancy’s ‘plain-air’ art springs from astute observation within the landscape, and an intense understanding of weather.
“Her grandfather was influential in teaching Nancy to see the colors of weather,” adds Reuter. “She knows that weather never exists as a static entity, and she captures imminent change in the volatile landscape—hiding great storms and massive cloud buildup, winds and movement, even in moments of calm.”
Nancy Friese: Encircling Trees and Radiant Skies, an Enbridge-supported exhibition running through Sept. 11 at the North Dakota Museum of Art, represents Friese’s big homecoming. “Many artists have shown landscape paintings in North Dakota, but Nancy’s strikes me as the most creative and daring,” remarks Reuter. Working in oils, watercolors and prints, which include woodcuts, etchings and drypoints, Friese has earned national success as both an artist and a teacher of art. Many of her students at the Rhode Island School of Design have gone on to earn national and international recognition—and some of those works are currently being shown at the North Dakota Museum of Art as an accompanying exhibition, entitled Second Nature.
“The exhibition catches North Dakota’s light,” says Reuter, whose Grand Forks- based institution is the state’s official art museum. “I believe we seldom see our own landscape appear in works of art that have national appeal.”
Enbridge exists to fuel quality of life, and we’re committed to enriching lives in the communities where we live and work through cultural experiences. Through an $8,000 presenting sponsorship commitment from Enbridge, Nancy Friese: Encircling Trees and Radiant Skies is advancing the North Dakota Museum of Art’s mission to nurture artistic expression on the Northern Plains.
Friese, who’s been elected to the National Academy Museum and School in New York, and has received three National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, shows in the U.S., Europe and Japan.
“It’s difficult to define, but sometimes a work of art features ‘our light’—the light we live with in North Dakota,” says Reuter. “That’s what I see in Nancy’s art.”