Piehl was born in Marion, North Dakota. He received his Bachelor’s degree in art from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. He earned both an MA and an MFA from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. Piehl has taught at the University of Minnesota, Mayville State College, as well as Valley City University. He is currently an art professor at Minot State University where he has been teaching since 1970.
Piehl grew to love horses and the rodeo at an early age when he would assist his father, who was a horse dealer and part-time rodeo producer. Having tried his hand at riding, Piehl later 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.
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, Boise State University Gallery, the Art Museum of Missoula, and the Yellowstone Art Museum, among many others throughout the southwest and Midwest. Plains Art Museum held Piehl’s first major retrospective August 7 to October 26, 2003.