Dogs & Ponies at the Northwest Arts Center

MINOT, N.D. – The Northwest Arts Center presents “The Dog & Pony Show II,” an exhibition by artists Walter Piehl and Doug Pfliger, on view from Feb. 16 to March 30. This iconic series of works from Piehl and Pfliger, including mixed media painting and sculpture, playfully intertwine in a dynamic display of color, line, and shape.

The show features works from the “Walter Piehl Retrospective: 1967-2018.” Nationally recognized as one of North Dakota’s premier painters, Piehl is an aficionado of history and art with a lifelong passion for Western Americana that stems from his upbringing in a ranching family that rode horses, raised stock, and participated in rodeos. Continuing to be as prolific as ever, Piehl is including recent paintings alongside pieces from the Retrospective.

His paintings, which demonstrate a unique blend of Western and contemporary artistic styles, have been shown at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indian and Western Art, the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, the Museum of the American Cowboy, the Missoula Art Museum, and the Yellowstone Art Museum, among many other galleries throughout the Southwest and Midwest. The Plains Art Museum held Piehl’s first major retrospective in 2003, followed by the Northwest Arts Center and the North Dakota Museum of Art in 2018. Donated by Piehl to Minot State University in 2019, the Retrospective continued to tour through North Dakota and Montana through 2022, and is now back in Minot.

Accompanying the Retrospective will be an exhibition of mixed media paintings and sculptures by Pfliger, former Minot State professor. Inspired by a cowboy and bucking bronco emblazoned bandana purchased in a vintage store, Pfliger’s “Bandana-rama” series uses iconic western imagery documented from vintage and contemporary sources. Some of the images even found their way between Piehl and Pfliger as the two traded materials. The finding and documentation of these images became the core for the series, and of course the title for the exhibit is a play on the 1980’s English Pop group.

“Doug’s Dogs” series started in 2005 as a fluke.  Several prototypes of the series had been constructed and submitted to a fundraiser for the Taube Museum of Art. The dogs were well received, and with many having been outbid, they wanted more. Doug agreed to make them, and their popularity continues to this day. The dog’s folksy quality is intentional, but their individual character was quite serendipitous. People began asking for other animals and soon other animals were added to the menagerie. In 2022 Pfliger reached the goal of having made 350 since their 2005 inception.

Humor has always been significant in Pfliger’s art, which tends to the whimsical and narrative. As Pfliger says, “I like working in a variety of themes and series in an attempt to both amuse and create dialogue.”

An opening reception and online viewing of “The Dog & Pony Show II” with the artists will be held on Thursday, Feb. 16 from 5-7 p.m. Masks are not required, but individuals who are not fully vaccinated or deemed vulnerable are encouraged to continue to wear masks. Both exhibitions and receptions are free and open to the public.

While at the Northwest Arts Center, the exhibitions are available for viewing Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday 1-5 p.m. It is closed holidays. The Walter Piehl Gallery is located on the lower level of the Gordon B. Olson Library at Minot State University, with its own entrance on the south side of the library. The exhibition and related events are free and open to the public.

This project is sponsored by the Minot State University Development Foundation and supported by a grant from the North Dakota Council on the Arts, which receives funding from the state legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Dog & Pony Show II: Feb. 16-March 3-31

The Dog & Pony Show II is sponsored by the Minot State University Development Foundation. This project is funded in part by a grant from the North Dakota Council on the Arts, which receives funding from the state legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Opening Reception & Online Viewing
Thursday, Feb. 16, 5-7 p.m.
Northwest Arts Center, Minot State University

Exhibition Tour with Walter Piehl
Saturday, March 11, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
Northwest Arts Center, Minot State University 

The Northwest Arts Center is a non-profit arts center operating on the campus of Minot State University. The Center houses the Walter Piehl Gallery, a public reception area, and climate-controlled collections storage and display for Minot State University’s Permanent Art Collection and Native American Collections. Over the years the Center has enriched the artistic life of northwest North Dakota with year-round art exhibitions, a performing arts series, a public lecture series, and numerous workshops and artists-in-residence activities.

The Northwest Arts Center is located at Minot State University, 500 University Ave. W, Minot, ND, 58707. The Walter Piehl Gallery is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 1-5 p.m. and by appointment. Gallery entrance and visitor parking are on the south side of the Gordon B. Olson Library. Exhibitions, receptions, and other programming are free and open to the public.

Greg Vettel, Director, Northwest Arts Center, 701-858-3264

Walter Piehl was born in Marion. After receiving his Bachelor’s degree in art from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, Piehl earned both an MA and an MFA from the University of North Dakota.

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 has taught at the University of Minnesota, Mayville State College, as well as Valley City University. In 2018, he retired as an art professor at Minot State University where he had been teaching since 1970.

For more on Walter Piehl and the Walter Piehl Retrospective: 1692-2018, see attached PDF.

Born and raised in North Dakota, Doug Pfliger earned his BSE in art education is from Minot State University in 1984 and an MFA in painting is from the University of North Dakota in 1997. He taught art at Minot State University until 2018 and has been making art for over 30 years.

For Pfliger’s Artist Statement, see attached PDF.

About Minot State University
Minot State University is a public university dedicated to excellence in education, scholarship, and community engagement achieved through rigorous academic experiences, active learning environments, commitment to public service, and a vibrant campus life.

Published: 02/10/23   

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