Susan Rose & Annie Wilson
A Painter and a Songwriter
September 12 – October 10 | 2021
The Volland Store will be closed for private events October 9 and 10
The exhibit is available for public viewing through October 3
If you miss it at Volland, Peace on the Prairie will be exhibited at Pioneer Bluffs on the afternoon of October 16.
Susan Rose, Peaceful Prairie, oil on panel, 8 x16
Sunday, September 12
Presentation & Performance
Music by Tallgrass Express begins at 1:15
Presentation at 2:00
Refreshments | Free Admission
Masks required inside.
Marrying the visual and musical arts, Peace on the Prairie connects viewers to the prairie in this inter-disciplinary exhibition.
Susan Rose and Annie Wilson engaged with the prairie independently before their 2020 project. Rose, who works primarily with oil, but also in watercolor, drawing, and photography, often focuses on often-overlooked features in the prairie. Wilson, holding deep roots in the Flint Hills, began writing free-verse poems in the 1980s, drawing inspiration from Stephen Hind. After meeting in Cottonwood Falls a few years ago, Rose had hoped she could make work reflecting Wilson’s lyrics. The opportunity presented itself in 2020 when Rose found comfort and inspiration in “Peace on the Prairie,” Wilson and Tallgrass Express’ latest album. Rose’s twelve paintings in the exhibition correlate to lines from the album’s title track, offering viewers her interpretation of Wilson’s words.
… A Great Blue Heron slowly glides across the evening sky …
“Peace on the Prairie” by Annie Wilson
Susan Rose, Wings of Peace, oil on canvas, 15×30
Years ago when I was first exposed to Annie Wilson’s music, I was immediately taken by her story telling. In particular I loved her description of the Flint Hills landscape, its flora and fauna, and its beauty to behold. The poetry in the lyrics aligned with my own emotional and visual “triggers” which I seek to capture in my paintings of the Flint Hills landscape.
I met Annie in person for the first time one summer day in Cottonwood Falls a few year ago. I told her how much I enjoy her music and that she sings about the same things that I paint! Since that time I have often said it would be fun one day to pair her lyrics with my art. Well, that day came as the difficult year of 2020 was coming to a close and I was struggling emotionally and artistically. Annie shared her newly released CD “Peace on the Prairie” with me to help lift me up. The title song did in fact immediately do its work on me, quickly pushing that dark cloud away as its music rekindled my imagination. Inspired, I began painting scenes from its verses. This exhibit represents the body of work created for this song. – Susan Rose
When I first began to see Susan Rose’s work, I was immediately struck by its beauty and how Susan painted the scenes I loved to look at in the Flint Hills: wide vistas with clean horizons and beautiful skies, often featuring close-ups of prairie flowers, grasses, wildlife, and especially birds. I was enchanted! We both seemed drawn to these dreamlike Flint Hills landscapes that bring peace and comfort to the soul, especially in troubled times.
When I got to know Susan and would run into her occasionally at concerts and events, we shared how we must see the same kind magic in the Flint Hills, and how it would be fun to somehow work together to pair our art and music. When Dave Kendall included both of us in his documentary, Prairie Women, I felt an even stronger kinship with Susan.
Then I was truly amazed and delighted when Susan initiated this collaboration last December by starting her series of paintings illustrating the lines in my new album’s title song “Peace on the Prairie.” As she finished and shared each additional painting, I was continually awed at her insight in so closely creating the visualization I had been trying to convey in words and music.
I feel profoundly fortunate and consider it one of the greatest honors of my life that Susan chose to do this project. I am thankful to the Volland Store for helping us to share this collaboration of art and music – so we can all celebrate together the beauty and comfort of the Flint Hills, and their gift to us of “Peace on the Prairie.” – Annie Wilson
… There is peace on the prairie – tonight …
“Peace on the Prairie” by Annie Wilson
Susan Rose, Evening Whispers, oil on canvas, 20×24
Susan Rose is inspired by the beauty of the prairie, the sky and the creatures that call it home. She refers to the natural world around her as “God’s Canvas” and is challenged to attempt to capture an essence of what is observed on this “canvas” to others through her art. She is particularly drawn to focus on the small but beautiful elements in nature that are easily overlooked or taken for granted, or the play of light and shadows across the contours of the hills. Nature and the Flint Hills is the subject of most of her work. Her love of outdoor life and animals is enhanced by living on “a little house on the prairie” in rural Wabaunsee County, alongside her husband and a collection of dogs, cats, horses, and goats. Though a professional artist, she is also a licensed veterinary nurse by training and works at the KSU College of Veterinary Medicine as an instructor.
She mostly works in the studio from her own photographs and from memories collected while immersed in the local landscape and nature. While most of the current work is done in oil, she also enjoys combining drawing and watercolor as well.
Once a month she hosts other artists to join her in the Flint Hills for her “Second-Saturday Paint Out.” The group has continued to meet year-round each month since 2014. This activity drew the attention of others and led her to be one of the featured women in the 2018 Prairie Hollow Production documentary, “Engaging Women of the Flint Hills,” which has appeared frequently on Kansas public television and has toured Kansas.
Her work has been selected for juried and invitational regional and international exhibits and is in numerous private collections around the country. It has been featured in SouthWind Art Gallery books State of the Art-Kansas and Topeka: A Great Arts Town. Native-bird themed work was also part of the Flint Hills Discovery Center’s Through the Artist’s Eyes exhibit, which also was published in a book by the same name.
Annie Wilson always wanted to be a writer, a cowgirl, and a folk singer. Since none of these guarantees a steady living, she pursued various alternate professions over the years – in law, business and teaching. Nevertheless, thanks to some good luck, she eventually found a way to share her written word, live on a ranch, and sing about it!
After college classes with authors Tom Averill and Jim Hoy, and inspired by Flint Hills poet Stephen Hind, Annie began writing regional-themed free verse poems in the 1980’s, while raising three daughters with her husband on their Flint Hills ranch. Her writing did not quite fit the “cowboy poetry” genre, yet Jim Hoy included her in his poetry gatherings, and as a result, she learned there was an audience for her writing.
After performing in a music duo in her 20’s, Annie had put music aside for a couple of decades as work and family dominated her life. But when her kids were older, she began to join the Emma Chase Friday Night Music gatherings and became part of the Tallgrass Express String Band which grew out of that. She then wrote her first song about the Flint Hills region – discovering a way to fuse her love of writing, ranch life, and music.
Annie struggled with the exact meter and rhyme required in song lyrics, and with her limited musical training (mainly playing by ear), but she slowly began to create more songs about life in the Flint Hills, hoping to share the beauty of the landscape and wildlife, and portray local legends and history.
Over the years, Annie depended on her band partners to “dress up” her simple melodies with instrumentation and harmonies. She especially appreciates the talents of current Tallgrass Express musicians Carl Reed on bass, guitar and vocals, and Derrick Doty on fiddle, mandolin, and banjo. Both are gifted songwriters and composers in their own right.
Today, Tallgrass Express has recorded five albums with over 50 original songs, and given over 400 performances, taking listeners to a world of stunning landscapes, western romance and humor, skilled cowboys and spunky cowgirls, runaway horses, Indian buffalo hunts, fiery abolitionists, and lovely prairie walks among native birds and grasses.
In 2013, Annie Wilson was named the Kansas Flint Hills Balladeer for her songs celebrating the Flint Hills. Author Jim Hoy writes that her words and melodies “embody the landscape and bring the tallgrass prairie to life.”
… The cattle on the hillside are belly deep in grass/ Heads down low and grazing as they’re slowly inching past …
“Peace on the Prairie” by Annie Wilson
Susan Rose, Peaceful Pastures, oil on canvas, 15×30
Join Us on September 12th for a Presentation by Susan Rose and Annie Wilson, with a Live Performance by Annie Wilson and Tallgrass Express!
Susan Rose and Annie Wilson will be at The Volland Store to present Peace on the Prairie on September 12th. Beginning with live music by Tallgrass Express at 1:15 by the Blacksmith Shop, the artists will present outside (weather permitting). This will be an opportunity to hear the artists speak on their creative processes, engage with their work through an interactive program, and meet Susan and Annie. Inside, the gallery will be open to view Rose’s Peace on the Prairie works. A film by Dave Kendall is an extraordinary melding of Rose’s paintings with the music and lyrics of Wilson’s song, each heightening the other and engaging viewers on two fronts.
Free admission. Refreshments will be served.
For your protection, and the safety of others, chairs will be socially distanced outside, and masks required inside the gallery.