‘Cowboy Stuff’: Piehl’s unique cowboy art on display at Arts CenterA nationally known artist with ties to the area will be exhibiting “Cowboy Stuff, Sweethearts and Minotaurs” as the latest exhibit at the Arts Center.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
A nationally known artist with ties to the area will be exhibiting “Cowboy Stuff, Sweethearts and Minotaurs” as the latest exhibit at the Arts Center.
Walter Piehl, originally of Marion, N.D., has close to 20 works of contemporary art covering the main aspects of a western lifestyle. Currently his art is also displayed in Nevada, Washington, California and other states across the nation.
“Boots, saddles and hats are probably the most important things western-lifestyle people use and cherish aside from their horse,” Piehl said.
As a child in Marion, Piehl grew up with a father who provided rodeo stock. He still recalls drawing ornate saddles as a child, or breaking in a new pair of cowboy boots.
“I grew up with that as part of my every day, youthful influence, and when I went to college, especially graduate school at UND (University of North Dakota), they encouraged me to paint something a little more exciting than the landscapes I was working on at the time,” he said.
It’s no surprise he stuck with western subject matters that now encompasses his art.
“Walter has a unique appeal to people all over the country who are interested not only in contemporary abstract art, but who have an affinity to western art, rodeo, the American hero that’s the cowboy. It really crosses boundaries,” said Sally Jeppson, gallery manager.
This is Piehl’s first show in Jamestown in 10 or 15 years, Jeppson said.
“They are all my favorites, that’s why they’re here,” Piehl said standing in the gallery surrounded by his paintings. “I bring only the best to the Jamestown Arts Center, that’s what I think about this place.”
Piehl recalled dating his wife Becky at Marion High School and watching movies at the Silver Cinema, which became the Arts Center. The room that will now showcase his work for a month used to be that theater.
“This is kind of like homecoming for us,” he said.
Primarily in the past Piehl focused on conveying energy with color, using drips runs and splatters on the canvas as ways to give light, all a byproduct of expressionist art, he said.
That technique can be found in his “Minotaur” pieces, which feature bulls and bull riders.
“Like action painters of New York, where the act of painting needs to be communicated to the viewer by the way the paint looks on the canvas,” Piehl said. “That energy hopefully also feeds the imagery.”
For “Sweethearts,” Piehl has a few paintings displaying the girls of the rodeo and the western lifestyle, including one self-portrait that was displayed at the Rourke Art Gallery, in Moorhead, Minn.
Now Piehl, who lives outside of Minot, N.D., is using flashes of a generation past in his still life — his latest artistic endeavor.
“I’m at a time now when I’m doing a lot of still life, I call it ‘Cowboy Stuff,’” he said.
Those who look enough at some of his “Cowboy Stuff” art will notice aspects of a different era, whether it’s cowgirl pinups, flowers, country sheet music or old world maps, mainly on his saddles.
“I try to keep some of the map coming through, as a decorative element as part of the saddle sometimes,” he said.
“Cowboy Stuff, Sweethearts and Minotaurs” will be on display from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday until Jan. 12 at the Arts Center. There is no admission charge.
“There’s something romantic about ‘Cowboy Stuff,’” Jeppson said. “It captures the romantic ways of the American west, the free spirit of the American frontier and that’s appealing to a wide audience.”
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org