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More art space

Walter Piehl poses in front of one of his art pieces.  His work will be displayed at the new Northwest Art Center gallery opening in the Gordon B. Olson Library.

The Northwest Art Center at Minot State University is expanding its art space to include the lower level of the Gordon B. Olson Library. The renovation work to the library began last summer and will be completed in time for an April grand opening.

Private donors funded the $1.4 million project through the MSU Development Foundation, Chuck and Madge Westlie Estate, and alumna and professor emeritus Doris Slaaten.

The gallery portion of the art center will be named after Walter Piehl, expressionistic artist and longtime professor at Minot State University. The opening will also premiere a retrospective exhibit of Piehl’s art career with many vibrant, western-themed pieces that he has constructed over his career as an artist.

“You will see my earliest pieces as a student and what I now make as a professional artist,” Piehl said. “It will run the gamut of over fifty years of studio practice.”

He hopes to convey a story of growth in the craft he has put so many years into.

“As with any profession, the longer you practice it you go through changes and hopefully you improve. I would say that I would hope my work, from the earliest work to what I’m doing now, shows a strengthening process,” Piehl said.

Currently, the Northwest Art Center runs two galleries on campus, sponsors community lectures, and participates in NOTSTOCK. The galleries are located on the second floor of Hartnett Hall and just off the information desk in the library. Exhibits rotate in and out of the two galleries, but purchased and donated artwork is also housed permanently. All of the art serves as a teaching resource for students and professors on campus to utilize.

“We’re a teaching institution,” Avis Veikley, director of the Northwest Art Center, said. “We use the art that we have to help our students understand what’s happening in the contemporary art world.”

The new art center will also have more work space as well as storage for the permanent collections like Native American artifacts (including headdresses and regalia) already at Minot State and offer more opportunities to students.

“[The renovated art space] is going to open up a lot of good possibilities in the types of shows that we can have, the better access we’ll have to the community, and the opportunities for students to get involved in running the gallery as interns. It’s going to be great,” Veikley said.

Piehl said the gallery offers community members access to more diverse work from professional artists.

“The most important thing with this whole move is now our permanent collection and our space for preparation of exhibits will all be in one place, it’ll be climate controlled, and it’ll raise the whole quality of the kinds of exhibits that can be brought to Minot State as a first-class art facility,” Piehl said.

The Walter Piehl Gallery will have a section permanently dedicated to his work but will also have a rotation of different exhibits on display.

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