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Photography tent adds a new lens to art at Symphony in the Flint Hills

A tent displaying original photographs for auction was a new addition to this year’s 10th Symphony in the Flint Hills.

A few eager attendees hovered over the bidding table as volunteer Chelsea Carlin announced eight minutes until bidding closed.

Carlin and her father, Chris, have volunteered at the event since the first Symphony in the Flint Hills.

“People come from all over the world, specifically for the art, and it is a lot more diversified,” Chris Carlin said.

Due to the past success of the art tent, the Symphony office decided to add a photo tent that functions parallel to the art tent.

Volunteers for the art tent pass the time making jokes, waiting for the attendees to arrive. Every year, some people just come for the art.
Volunteers for the art tent pass the time making jokes, waiting for the attendees to arrive. Every year, some people just come for the art.

Deborah Keating from Kansas City, Missouri was the lead volunteer for the art tent. She said the art tent has grown since she first started attending six years ago. This year the tents featured about 48 paintings and 25 artists.

One year, a woman came from New York City for a painting and refused to go home without it when the art tent closed because of the wind, Keating said.

Linda Winter from Wichita enjoyed the more reasonable prices in the photo tent compared to the art tent.

“I love the clarity, the intensity, the emotional connection of the pictures, the variety, the fact that they are not all Flint Hills pictures,” Winter said. “That really amazed me because I got tripped up on two that were from Africa.”

Following this year’s theme, Grasslands of the World, some photos featured grasslands in other parts of the world as well as the Kansas Flint Hills.

National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson chose the 42 photos shown at the event from the 60 submitted by amateurs and professionals.

Tasha Wentling, 18, stood in front of her photo, a foggy pasture and an old wooden fence in New Zealand.

Wentling, one of the youngest photographers exhibiting her work, just graduated from Maize High School and plans to attend Wichita State University in the fall to study Pre-Art and Design.

Wentling heard from her art teacher about the opportunity and was surprised when her photo doubled in price during the silent auction. “I never took any photography classes,” Wentling said. “I have an eye for the composition.”

Another featured photographer, Wayne Green, took his selected photos for auction with an iPhone.

When artists sell their work, 50 percent of the profit goes back to support Symphony in the Flint Hills.

— by Chandler Williams

Tasha Wentling, 18, stands by her photographer to answer questions from passerby. This year was the first year the event included a photography tent.
Tasha Wentling, 18, stands by her photographer to answer questions from passerby. This year was the first year the event included a photography tent.