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Walter Piehl Jr. Retrospective

August 7 - October 26, 2003


"Piehl transcends pictorial imagery to convey the excitement, tension, and conflict of Western Americana."

Donna Carlson, Art Historian, Minnesota State University, Moorhead


Walter Piehl, Jr. is one of North Dakota's most important artists. The Plains Art Museum is organizing a career survey of four and a half decades of Piehl's work. A full color exhibition catalogue with in-depth, critical essays will be published in conjunction with the exhibition. (right: Walter Piehl, Jr., "grape crush: sweetheart of the rodeo series", 1999, acrylic, courtesy of the Microsoft Art Collection)

Piehl's work has been highly respected within the esoteric realm of Western art, yet Piehl is also a vibrant, creative artist whose creativity transcends his subject. He expresses his subjects in a manner and style indicative of their active nature. Montana curator Gordon McConnell, and catalogue essayist, has written that Piehl uses color and brushwork "in the spirit of the 1940s Abstract Expressionists to convey the dynamics of rodeo action."

The artist grew to love horses and the rodeo at an early age by his father, who was a horse trader and part-time rodeo producer. Piehl worked as a rodeo announcer for thirty years. His artistic talents and his love for the rodeo led him to explore the creative possibilities of representing the fast and furious action of the sport on the painted canvas. Piehl, having grown up in a state without the benefit of an art museum, became a teacher to not only pursue his love of painting, but to teach and share his appreciation of art with others. Piehl is an art professor at Minot State University where he has been teaching for 32 years.

What is little known about Piehl's work and what this exhibition will draw attention to, is his broad creative talent and his varied subjects. Well known throughout the museums and galleries of the Midwest and West for his "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" series, this exhibition and catalogue will show there is more to the art of Walter Piehl.

Organized by the Plains Art Museum, Fargo, North Dakota.


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