The Plains at Cherokee, OK & “School’s Out”


The Spring of 2013 began quietly. Oklahomans were lulled into the belief that the gentle breezes and warm fields would remain untouched this year. The violence of spring on the Plains was late, so an early May trip to northern Oklahoma was deceptively peaceful.

The air was heavy and quiet. The road to Salt Plains State Park is far enough from the highway that the only sounds were the whispers of wind on sturdy canola flowers and the waves of wheat beginning to turn gold.

jeffy-saltplWe dug salt crystals on the lake bed. Only a thin dry layer covered red wet sand and the jewels hidden only a few inches below.

The soil near Cherokee, Oklahoma is paled with gypsum and the dirt roads are blinding white in the mid-day sun. A crossroads here is the only reference point in the sea of fields that extend, uninterrupted, into the horizon. The temperature hovered in the mid-70’s, so I parked at that lonely crossroads of the southern plains and blended into the silence.

Salt Crystal

Salt Crystal

At this crossroads, casting one of the few shadows a place like this will earn, an old ruined schoolhouse stood in the long prairie grass. Without the heavy snows to break its back, the roof was straight, missing only enough shingles to cast a beam of light into the darkened building. The doors were long gone. The breeze was too light to make music with the gaps between the boards still clinging to its near century old walls.

I am attracted to ruins of all kinds and Oklahoma has its share. Wild West ghost towns (coming soon) share the landscapes with abandoned farms from Ingalls in the rolling eastern parts, to western stretches of Route 66 on the open Plains.

The harshness of mid day gave way to a golden afternoon. I had lingered long enough.


"School's Out", mixed media on board © 2014 M.B. Hendry

“School’s Out”, mixed media on board © 2014 M.B. Hendry

The latest mixed media experiment. The print is made from an acid etched plate of a photograph I took of the Cherokee schoolhouse and is suspended on a textured panel.



  1. says

    ooh would love to see the ghost towns :)

    very nice mixed media piece, like how the fence runs threw the board, continues on to the print and then back to the board

    • Michelle says

      Thanks! The fence was my favourite part… LOL!
      There will be ghost towns. Very soon! Sending some speedy healing your way too!

  2. says

    Jennifer’s right! the continuation of the fences makes the composition. I would have just thought, this looks fantastic, but can’t say why. Glad to see you creating again, and blogging.

  3. says

    That first photo is awe inspiring! Are those canola /rape seeds? If so, they’re quite a usual site in Alberta summer, but don’t know you have them in OK. I know earlier in the year you mentioned about branching out into mixed media art, do consider photography as well. 😉

    • Michelle says

      Thanks, Arti!
      Lots of canola here too in the spring. As for the photography, I haven’t developed skills in that for many years with my focus on painting, but perhaps I might change that too.