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Layers to Piehl

NoDef Explores a Duo of Shows at Filthy Linen Night

Sometimes, amid clever conceptual works and carefully planned performance pieces, one stumbles upon a clear reminder that some people are very, very good at depicting what they see.


Bonnie Maygarden and Angela Piehl are two such artists.  Maygarden’s show, “Virtuous Reality” opened at The Front (4100 St. Claude Ave.) and Piehl’s work opened at Antenna Gallery (3718 St. Clin the group show “Process”.  These artists held court on the St. Claude Arts District's biggest event of the year, Filthy Linen Night, and justifiably so.


Although their styles are very different, what they share is a formidable talent that stands its ground in the digital age.  Piehl subtly creates intricate work about consumerism and wealth accumulation, while Maygarden imitates, by hand, what appear to be digital graphics.  Each artist, in her own way, provokes inquiry into a suspected discrepancy between the proficient and the covertly un-talented.  In the study of art history from the Renaissance through the Baroque, these special proficiencies are called virtuoso displays, not “badass,” as the layperson might guess.


One intuits that there are dark things hidden inside of Piehl’s baroque creations.  They are just a little too luxurious to be real, but incredibly inviting all the same.  We can pick out pearls, prisms, antlers; sometimes a honeycomb, feathers, somehow bound together in a cohesive but unknowable object.  There are bits of luxurious fabric, so much to investigate and identify that the eye is continuously moving. They are psychedelic in black and white, and sometimes take on the glow of electricity, especially her work Chimera, the 30”x22” gouache and colored pencil on black paper. 


Piehl demonstrates a graceful rendering technique which allows gossamer, gauzy fronds and bits of ribbon to float under imaginary water alongside strings of pearls, as in her work Beetle, which is simply colored pencil on black paper.  Perhaps her coup de grace will be to show these mysterious objects in color someday.  Such a remnant speaks of the fantasy that Piehl’s work inspires.


While Maygarden’s tricky and precise graphics masquerade as digitally produced images, they are digital photo-real.   Maygarden hand-paints continuous patterns of crushed, neon paper on vinyl and pleather.  The practice of using complementary colors to create shadow and light began with Michelangelo, is called cangiante, and Maygarden makes it look a little effortless.  Although her concept is devastatingly simple in its approach, her style of abstraction and disregard for the frame has much in common with Jackson Pollock.


Both of these artists’ works translate exceptionally well from the computer screen, as well.  No effect is lost in Piehl’s work, and Bonnie Maygarden’s may actually benefit.  The main thing that these two stylistically different artists share in common, however, is massive drawing ability.  They represent old-school talent applied to innovative and fresh concepts.

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Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Alexis Manrodt, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde


Art Director

Michael Weber, B.A.


Listings Editor

Linzi Falk

Editor Emeritus

Alexis Manrodt

B. E. Mintz

Stephen Babcock

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