I started entering art shows this year. Got in some, shut out of others. My latest entries were for the Visions of the Flint Hills show at the Buttonwood Art Space, 3013 Main St., Kansas City, Missouri, which runs through November 27, 2015. This time, two of my photographs were accepted, and one earned a third-place ribbon in photography. Hurrah! The opening event was part of Kansas City’s First Fridays art walk.
But the real story isn’t about me, but the gorgeous Flint Hills of Kansas, which is the true star of the art and photography show.
For seven years Buttonwood Art Space has supported the Flint Hills area of Kansas and its unique place in our greater regional ecosystem through this annual art benefit. Visions of the Flint Hills Art Benefit and Sale is a juried exhibit featuring art of the Flint Hills. Sweeping paintings of sky and native prairie grass dominate the show, but sculpture pieces, fiber works and photos are also featured. The art is on exhibit October and November, in Buttonwood Art Space.
Proceeds from the event will benefit a non-profit organization, Friends of the Konza Prairie, a 501(c)3 organization which is involved in supporting the Konza Prairie, an 8,600 acre research and educational preserve south of Manhattan, Kansas. The Flint Hills are the continent’s largest remaining tract of Tallgrass native prairie which is also one of America’s unique places. This unique geographic area once swept over 170 million acres of North America and was home to huge herds of buffalo and elk. It is now a vanishing area. It harbors a wealth of adventure, beauty, and history. The region’s sweeping horizons and carpets of wildflowers captivate artists and enchant visitors.
I took these photographs at a photography workshop at the Cowboy Way Ranch near Westmoreland, Kansas, organized by Craig McCord and Jason Soden. My photographer friend Lynn told me about it and drove us there, so without these photographers, I wouldn’t have experienced this prairie burn. I am in their debt.
“At sunset, three riders hurry to an area to be burned in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Smoke already fills the skies and plumes rise in the valley beyond. Ranchers replicate natural fires when they burn the prairie, which preserves the grassland.” I was sitting on a flatbed trailer, bumping up a hill as the truck made its way to the next burn area, when I saw these three riders. It was smoky, it was getting dark dark, it was hard to focus and steady my hand, but I did get this one shot. The rider in back holds onto her hat as they race across the prairie. The hat had flown off her head on another day, so she was taking no chances.
Photo on Visions of the Flint Hills website here: Three Riders in the Kansas Flint Hills
“A rancher on horseback starts a controlled burn by dragging a fiery tire across the prairie in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Ranchers replicate natural fires when they burn the prairie every few years, which preserves the prairie as a grassland.” This happened so fast that I almost missed it. Several others at the workshop captured it, too.
Photo on Visions of the Flint Hills website here: Kansas Rancher Stating a Controlled Burn