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Making Peace with Green

Attendees gaze at paintings done by local artists before the concert. The art tent is one of the busiest tents throughout the day of the event. (Photo by Ian Knight)

For generations, artists have tried to capture the beauty of the Flint Hills.

“I never tire of delineating these beyond-the-blue ridges,” the symphony’s show-winning artist, Lisa Grossman, said. “They can’t be photographed, the way I see them.”

Within the 1-foot by 3-foot frame of Grossman’s winning “In the Cottonwood Watershed,” she captures the rolling vastness of the hills in precise strokes of oil.

Blades of grass bent by the wind are transformed into arcing brush strokes. The sky washes into a vague blue. Hills and valleys become streaks of oil on a canvas of prairie.

Grossman’s strokes render few details, but her attention to values reveals subtle changes in topography. Her work is elemental, as air, earth and water emerge within the frames of her work.

In the symphony’s art tent, many other artists accompanied Grossman. Cris Chapin created the soft pastel piece “Lavender Sky” and sold it that evening in a silent auction for all of the pieces on display.

“Lavendar Sky” was painted by Cris Chapin.

Chapin’s piece brings new life to dirt roads. Soft pastels illustrated gravel as patches of gold and lavender.

Foliage lining the gravel draws the viewer’s eyes over a ridge, where the road gives way to hills of muted gold. The titular sky offers solace at the end of the journey.

“I love painting roads,” Chapin said. “You never know where one will take you and I think that it helps bring the viewer into the painting.”

As most artists do, Chapin and Grossman feel a personal connection with their pieces.

“They are composites of first-hand experience, memory, imagination, and emotion,” Grossman said.

The symphony may only last for one evening, but moments can be illustrated to last forever. Thanks to the artists who are inspired by the Flint Hills, visions of those hills will for grace walls and tables across the world for years.

— by Andrew Martin