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Kansas Flint Hills- unique weekend getaway and artist's retreat

Updated on January 31, 2017
looking out the window of our little artist's cottage.
looking out the window of our little artist's cottage.

The Gallery at Pioneer Bluffs in the Flint Hills of Kansas

The tallgrass prairie in the Flint Hills- an artistic escape

There is a place where vast expanses of prairie grass wave in the wind, with nothing but the sky above you. Where prairie fires and blackened sod give way to fresh new green life. A place where prairie chickens make a spectacle of themselves doing an elaborate mating dance . Whose beautiful headdress of feathers cannot help but bring to mind the Indians who roamed these plains for so long; The Kansa, or South wind, Indians.

Land, sea and sky- artistic inspiration

This place is Kansas. It's in the Flint Hills, Chase county, out in the middle of nowhere, somewhere between Wichita and Emporia on the two lane highway - or interstate 35 if you're in a hurry. If you are an artist or nature enthusiast, you will be particularly drawn in by the awe-inspiring beauty this place has to offer. It is the last and largest tallgrass prairie left in the country. You will see cows and horses grazing, and fires in the spring and fall. Both help renew the prairie and keep it just like it has always been. A place of refuge. A place of beauty. A place to be still. It's undulating forms still remind one of it's former life- an ocean bed- waves of tallgrass and birds now occupy where water and fish once met the sky while fossills in the limestone tell the story of prehistoric lifeforms.

Prairy Erth and the Flint Hills connection- an artist's story

This place has held many secrets over time ; of the ancient sea, of Native American, of pioneers, wind, fires, wondrous nature, and countless other stories never told. The book "Prairy Erth" , written by William Least Heat-Moon, tells all about this land and it's occupants over time and space. He probes deeply, and you come away with an appreciation and love of this mystical place- this spot in Kansas, of all places- whether you have ever traversed it's limestone bluffs or not. "Blue Highways",it's predecessor, also by Least Heat-Moon written in the 1970's, his story of travelling the byways of America during a time of transition and growth in his own life. This was the experience and the book where he first made contact with the Flint Hills, and was then inspired to write "PrairyErth" about Chase county. See more on the Flint Hills :

Drawn to this particular place on earth- Cultural and artistic retreat - artist residence

Ton and Ans Zoutenbier, moved deeply by these books, moved from Europe to the U.S.and settled in Abiquiu, New Mexico, where they ran an art gallery, the Tin Moon, for 12 years. But the more they learned of the Flint Hills, the more they loved it and decided in 2009 to uproot, move to the tallgrass prairie, and open an art gallery in the midst of this place they had fallen in love with.Led by this inspiration, Pioneer Bluffs art gallery was brought to life at the old Rogler homestead, a beautiful house built in 1909 with huge cottonwoods surrounding it. The cottonwoods date back to when Pioneer Bluffs was homesteaded, in 1859. You will find it on the Flint hills Scenic Byway 177, after you drive through Matfield Green if you're coming from the south. You can also take the exit to Matfield Green off of Interstate 35. You will know you're close when you see a hand build, limestone wall spanning at least a half of a mile before you get there. Drive up the gravel drive, up onto the welcoming porch and come in. This is not the kind of art gallery you would expect in the middle of Kansas. No, you will not find cows or chickens painted on anything, nothing "country" or even 'midwest" for that matter. This is a contemporary art gallery, known mostly for it's minimalist and modern artists. It has evolved into a mecca of sorts for artists, with workshops, artists in residence. Several of the residents in Matfield Green have moved from all over the country, and live in the Flint Hills part of the year, and the east coast, etc. the rest of the year.

So much more than just another art gallery-

So Pioneer Bluffs is a wonderful gallery, in a 103 year old home on the edge of the Flint Hills; the tallgrass prairie preserved as it has been for ages. It's a beautiful place to wander and roam, observe and experience. But it's a long way from nowhere- and you would have to drive back to Emporia to stay the night somewhere, right? Wrong!

Artist housing -

Here is one of the coolest things about Pioneer Bluffs art gallery. These folks have amazing little cottages, or bunkhouses, or farmhouses that they will put you up in. You can stay for a couple of days or a week, in your own little private getaway. Ton and Ans will even let you work in their huge community garden if you would like. Or have a wonderful barbeque dinner out in the barn when the volunteers all meet to work once a month. Great people, great food, and an inspiring and unique environment. But the most amazing experience is to be able to roam, explore, photograph and hike around this beautiful land during the day, and then come back to your little house to rest, write, draw, paint, or do whatever it is that you want to do in your quiet hideaway under the stars.

The Pioneer Bluffs art gallery and the Flint Hills surrounding it are hidden treasures in the middle of the Kansas plains. If you're looking for abounding beauty, in land and nature, in the people of this place, and in the fascinating art that is nurtured, spawned and thriving here, you can't find a more inspiring spot than this place.

Check out their facebook page and website to see beautiful photos, what's new, and how to contact them and book a trip!

Matfield Green Kansas and the Pioneer bluffs art gallery


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    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Great place, fine hub! Thanks for sharing!! ;-)

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 5 years ago from Georgia

      This is a beautiful hub! Great info and wonderful photos. Rated up!

    • Dbro profile image

      Dbro 5 years ago from Texas, USA

      I love this hub! I'm from Kansas originally, and really do sometimes yearn for those wide open spaces. I would love to live in this home and create my art there. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful place with us!