Art, Photography, Music & Writing

Be sure to visit our Geography and Mapping, History, Culture, Community, Economy page as well.

Note: Creative people with Flint Hills roots or who work with Flint Hills themes are too numerous to list here. Please do web searches, contact your local Arts Council and Historical Society, and enjoy finding them on your own. We include here some examples, and some who have received special recognition or have a focus on education.

Tallgrass Writers Workshop
Main Topic
Art and Photography events
Symphony in the Flint Hills - Art
Prairie Art and Photography Exhibit and Auction - annual event. Juried process chooses original work that captures the beauty of the Flint Hills. Symphony showcases work in their gallery and at the event, and auctions the work. Also, selects one painting for a commemorative print to sell (multiple copies).
Symphony in the Flint Hills
Art events
Visions of the Flint Hills 
[Go to Buttonwood Art site and search Visions of the Flint Hills for current and past exhibits.] Annual competition sponsored by Buttonwood Art Space in Kansas City, a gallery where local and regional artists share proceeds of sales with non-profit charities. Flint Hills show benefits Konza Prairie. See website for lists of annual winners and images of their art.
Buttonwood Art Space
Art events - Painting - plein air
Chase County Prairie Art Plein Air Art Festival
Annual 8-day plein air (outdoors in the open air) festival for prairie-loving artists to head out into the hills and paint. The many landscape paintings produced are displayed and offered at auction.
Chase County Chamber of Commerce
Art Galleries and Museums
Art Galleries and Museums - Flint Hills region
Scroll way down to view all listings.  May limit by typing "gallery" or "museum" in long Search box.  Can use "Map It" to discover which of 4 regions your area of Flint Hills is in.
Travel Kansas
Artists and photographers
Flint Hills Masters Flyer (PDF)
Flint Hills Masters (PDF)” exhibit at Flint Hills Discovery Center, curated by Jay Nelson of Strecker-Nelson Gallery, displayed 46 of “the most acclaimed and accomplished” artists and photographers. Read the Curator’s statement about the regional “Flint Hills School” of artists. See their work and artists’ statements at the Strecker-Nelson Gallery's website, or find their own websites.
Flint Hills Discovery Center Gallery
Artists - marketing, dual media
Dale Hartley’s Buckeye Creek Art Studio
Example of marketing strategy: independent web marketing site for dual media artist - ceramics and painting, all Flint Hills themes. See also studio Facebook page. Explore other Flint Hills artists’ marketing strategies.
Buckeye Creek Art Studio
Cowboy poetry
Ron’s Cowboy Poetry
Ron Wilson was named the “Poet Lariat” by the Kansas Governor in 2003, and organizes cowboy poetry gatherings. (He has a rich and varied background: See also below Huck Boyd Institute “Now That’s Rural” programs)
Ron Wilson
Cowboy poetry
National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo 

Annual gathering and competition of cowboy poets in Abilene, Kansas. 
National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo

Media - photography and writing: Community Profiles
Flint Hills Media Project
WSU student group does annual magazine featuring local people, places, things, businesses in one area of Flint Hills near the Symphony site that year. Great example of going deep into one area to tell its stories. Wonderful photography, too!
Flint Hills Media Project
 Media - Video production Prairie Hollow Productions Documentary film producers Dave Kendall (of Sunflower Journeys) and Laura Mead have featured the Flint Hills in numerous entertaining and educational projects - including Prairie Women-Engaging Women of the Flint Hills, and Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.  Excerpts available on website and on their Facebook page.  Prairie Hollow Productions
Music - western cowboy
Kansas Western Music Association
Group promotes western music and poetry - celebrates cowboy culture and lifestyle. Links to member performers promoting western cowboy music.
Affiliate of Western Music Association
Music and songwriters
"Flint Hills Balladeer" - Annie Wilson and Tallgrass Express
Singer-songwriter-rancher Annie Wilson was named the “Flint Hills Balladeer” in 2013 by the state of Kansas.  Her “Songs of the Kansas Flint Hills” CD series includes 47 original songs celebrating Flint Hills landscape, wildlife, and ranching culture. Band partner Carl Reed also writes songs about the Flint Hills, esp. anti-slavery movement. Songs & lyrics available on-line. 
Tallgrass Express String Band - Music
Music and songwriters
Jeff Davidson
Songwriter, singer, history buff, and former Greenwood County Extension Agent Jeff Davidson combines Kansas history and music, esp. in his “Trails of History” educational programs. See Lyrics page for list of classic traditional cowboy songs and some of his originals such as “Twilight on the Flint Hills Trail” and “Rooted in Stone.” Lyrics available online.
Jeff Davidson
 Music & songwriters Elexa Dawson and The Skirts  All-female Flint Hills-based band with original songs tied to the region's landscape and stories.  Potawatomi singer-songwriter Elexa Dawson's songs often have special focus on Native American themes.  Also in the band: songwriters Sarah Bays, Melissa Tastove, and Rachel Allai, and artist Emily Wilson on CDs Many Moons and Mother.  The Skirts
Music and songwriters
Kelley Hunt  Roots/Blues/Americana singer-songwriter Kelley Hunt writes by drawing on an organic combination of traditional influences, but her song "Heartland" builds on her Flint Hills roots.  Played on Prairie Home Companion and in the Flint Hills Discovery Center Theatre, it expresses our deep connection to home.  Kelley is available for in-school appearances ranging from classroom visits to an array of formal workshops.   Kelley Hunt
 Music & songwriters Ann Zimmerman Folksinger-songwriter Ann Zimmerman "sings the prairie into universal language."  In her honest, engaging performances, she celebrates life on the windy plains and addresses issues of the land and social justice.  She also recorded "Sea of Grass" by Christine Martin. Ann conducts children's music programs at schools across the region.   Ann Zimmerman
Music and cowboy culture
Prairie Rose Chuckwagon Supper
Dedicated to “values of the American cowboy.” In addition to classic cowboy music by the Prairie Rose Rangers, venue includes extensive museums of western art and artifacts including movies, trail drives, and tack. Special youth educational programs for schools and families, esp. see
Prairie Rose Chuckwagon Supper and Prairie Rose Rangers
Photographers - Birds & Nature Birds In Focus Outstanding Kansas nature photographers Bob Gress, Judd Patterson, and Dave Seibel partner to offer stunning photos and informative background on bird subjects.  Also see Patterson's Prairie Gallery.  Birds in Focus
Kansas Sampler Festival - Kansas Photographers (PDF)
This link to 2015 Kansas Sampler Photographers lists many of the finest, and nearly all these great photographers include Flint Hills landscapes in their portfolios.
Kansas Sampler Festival Photographers
Mark Feiden
The Flint Hills - example of hard copy publication of Flint Hills photography (intro essay by Jim Hoy). See some photos: click “preview first 22 pages of book here”
Konza Press
Terry Evans
Nationally recognized photographer Terry Evans has focused several times on the Flint Hills landscape. Is esp. known for her aerial photos, black and white grass textures, and the faces of rural residents in Matfield Green. Read her thoughtful project statements as you click at left on Prairie Specimens, Matfield Green, Inhabited Prairie, and Prairie Images of Ground and Sky.
Terry Evans Photography
Jim Richardson
National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson has photographed the world, including the Kansas Flint Hills featured in the April 2007 issue of National Geographic. View his stunning photos of the Tallgrass Prairie.
National Geographic
Ranchland Trust of Kansas Photography contest
See this Facebook album for winners in annual photography contest. Search other organizations’ for photo contests.
Facebook Album
Flint Hills Photography Club
Facebook Group shares photography taken in the Flint Hills - impressive variety of styles and subjects.
Facebook Photo Club Group
Map of Kansas Literature
Has Kansas map with clickable locations to find writers in every region, along with writing samples. (some discussed below)
Map of Kansas Literature
Poetry of Kansas
Another website of outstanding Kansas poetry, including writers and poems of the Flint Hills.
Kansas Time and Place
 Writing Workshop Tallgrass Writing Workshop  Annual event in Flint Hills includes Science and Nature field activities and presentations by authors, draws writers from across Kansas and region.
 Center for Great Plains Studies
Writers - children’s literature
Jerilynn Henrikson & Prairie Patchworks
Former Emporia English teacher writes children’s literature set in the Flint Hills tallgrass prairie with its natural creatures and area history.
Prairie Patchworks 
Writers - essays
Zula Bennington Greene (1895-2011)
Columnist Zula Bennington Greene wrote six columns a week for 55 years for the Topeka Capital-Journal. Known as “Peggy of the Flint Hills,” she gave a unique perspective to everyday life often in Flint Hills context. Essays were collected under Skimming the Cream in 1983, and in 2012, Peggy of the Flint Hills: A Memoir was posthumously published.
KU Emily Taylor Center for Women and Gender Equality
Writers - essays, poetry
Cheryl Unruh
From her Emporia home, Unruh celebrates the Kansas experience of wind, long horizons, clouds, storms, and small town life. A master of imagery and metaphor, her nearly-poetic essays explore the Flint Hills culture and land, as well as her childhood growing up in Pawnee Rock, Kansas.
Flyover People
Writers - essays, poetry
Rolla Clymer (1888-1977)
Known as the “Sage of the Flint Hills,” editor and editorialist Rolla Clymer’s writings were often reprinted by other editors across the state and country. In college, he worked under William Allen White. He was devoted to preserving the Kansas Flint Hills, and is famous for his poem: “Majesty of the Hills.”
Kansas State Historical Society
Writers - nonfiction
John E. Brown
Author of People of the Flint Hills: Bluestem Pasture Portraits (2014), personal profiles and stories of variety of people who live in the Flint Hills. Free-lance writer Brown lives on his ranch north of Eureka.
John Brown - Writer
Writers - novels, essays, Writing Workshop
Don Coldsmith (1926-2009)
Physician-storyteller-novelist Don Coldsmith of Emporia wrote 29 novels about Native Americans before the coming of Europeans in his “Spanish Bit” series, as well as 20 other books, and a weekly column “Horsin’ Around.” To encourage other writers, he started the Tallgrass Writing Workshop at Emporia State University, conducted 24 annual workshops. This program continues today under the leadership of novelist-journalist Max McCoy.
Don Coldsmith
Writers - novels, short stories, essays
Thomas Fox Averill
Award-winning writer of novels, short stories, and essays, Averill is a strong advocate for Kansas literature and sets some of his fiction in the Flint Hills. A master of voice, imagery and story-telling, his characters and stories go deep into the land and rural culture. He is a frequent radio commentator on Kansas politics in the voice of William Jennings Bryan Oleander.
Map of Kansas Literature
Writers - novels, Writing Workshop
Max McCoy
Prolific novelist McCoy began writing as a reporter and now teaches journalism at Emporia State Univ. McCoy’s novels are usually set in Missouri or Kansas and include themes of alienation, redemption, family, and violence in American culture. He encourages other writers by coordinating the annual Tallgrass Writing Workshop
Max McCoy
Writers - poetry
Jonathan Holden
The first Poet Laureate of Kansas, Holden was a distinguished poet-in-residence and taught English for many years at K-State; he served on the Pulitzer committee selecting prize winners in poetry. He founded the Kansas Poets website and delivered “Shop Talk” lectures and discussions across the state.
Kansas Poets
Writers - poetry
Denise Low
Born in Emporia, Low taught creative writing and American Indian Studies at Haskell Indian Nations Univ. Her Touching the Sky about the Flint Hills draws upon the natural landscape and especially connections to Native American roots. She was honored as the second Poet Laureate of Kansas.
Poetry Foundation
Writers - poetry
H. C. Palmer
H. C. Palmer is a physician who was born in southeast Kansas and spent much of his growing up in the Flint Hills which is his “anchor place.” He served in Vietnam in 1965 as a battalion surgeon. He is an assistant poetry editor at Narrative magazine.
Kansas Time and Place
Writers - poetry
Bill Sheldon
Spending part of his childhood in Emporia, Sheldon teaches now at Hutchinson Community College. His poems are full of references to the outdoors and interpretation of the natural landscape and rural culture. He compares his poetry to grasslands where “90% of it’s underground.”
Map of Kansas Literature
Writers - poetry
Kevin Rabas
Kansas 6th Poet Laureate (2017-2019), Rabas writes poetry, plays, and prose with contemporary themes, and is also an avid musician (jazz and folk drummer) and critic. In much of his work, Rabas writes about ordinary and extraordinary Kansans. He helps young writers as a professor of creative writing at Emporia State University.
Writers - poetry, essays, history, folklore, Writing Workshop
Jim Hoy
Born on a ranch near Cassoday, cowboy-professor Jim Hoy has led the movement to recognize, protect, share, and celebrate the Flint Hills as a special region, esp. by preserving its cowboy and ranching culture. His many books include Flint Hills Cowboys: Tales from the Tallgrass Prairie, Cowboys and Kansas: Stories from the Tallgrass Prairie, and Cowboy’s Lament: A Life on the Open Range. He is the Director of the Center for Great Plains Studies at Emporia State University where he taught many years. He also cowboys and teaches guests about the Flint Hills at the Flying W Ranch, operated by Josh (Jim’s son) and Gwen Hoy in Chase County.
Emporia State University: Center for Great Plains Studies
Writers - poetry, non-fiction
Harley Elliot
The work of this highly imaginative Salina poet and artist ranges east into the Flint Hills. Elliot shows a strong connection to the land, open sky, and true history of people. He has a special focus on our connections to ancient residents through discovery of stone artifacts.
Map of Kansas Literature
Writers - poetry, short stories
Amy Sage Webb
Energetic and passionate, Webb is an award-winning teacher and inspires her students in creative writing at Emporia State Univ. Concerned about the loss of rural areas to development, her voice is rooted in the soil and communities of the Flint Hills region, showing an appreciation for people of all types.
Emporia State University Profiles
Writers - poetry, short stories
Steven Hind
Born on a farm-ranch near Madison on the eastern edge of the Flint Hills, Hind brings a deeply authentic and observant voice to the Flint Hills landscape and rural culture.  He  taught English at Hutchinson Community College. His poems and stories contain oustanding word choice, depth, detail, imagery, and irony. “The most Kansas Kansas poet I've ever heard." (Robert Stein, English Department Chair, Washburn, University.)
Map of Kansas Literature