Elverhøj Museum of History and Art on Saturday debuted its newest gallery exhibition "Widening Circles: Landscape Portraits of Solvang," featuring the works of Santa Ynez Valley artists and husband/wife duo Chris Chapman and John Iwerks.

The artists' works focus on historical sites and structures found on the 8,883-acre parcel purchased in 1911 to establish a new Danish colony in the Santa Ynez Valley.

“Some of the layers on display are very much present tense, like cattle ranching and Old Mission Santa Inés,” Chapman said, “while other sites, such as dairy farms, no longer exist.”

The couple have been making art together for over 25 years and work in various mediums: Iwerks uses watercolors and oils, while Chapman utilizes pastels, watercolors and oils.

The artists explain their process. Typically their work begins outdoors — preferring the "sensory aliveness" offered by being outside — and finish with a more meditative approach inside their art studio. 

Iwerks_Grist Mill.jpg

An image of an old mill is part of the "Widening Circles: Landscape Portraits of Solvang" exhibit now on display at the Elverhøj Museum of History and Art.

While the pandemic postponed the art exhibit's opening, according to Chapman, the extra time allowed the pair to more deeply explore unique surrounding locations.

“Beautiful open landscapes, barns, mills, fields, the town and the river inspired us to paint them with the storied presence of layers of time,” he said.

Also included are tributes to habitat in the form of small works depicting native plants and wildlife.

A reception for the artists will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25, and represents the museum's first event since February 2020.

Some of the “old” festivities have been lost over the years. Ring riding for one. In a field next to Solvang’s post office (now the site of Hotel Corque and Route 246), a ring was suspended from a pole and horseback riders would take turns trying to spear it with a long lance. Supposedly an old Danish sport ...

Lisa André covers lifestyle and local news for Santa Ynez Valley News and Lompoc Record, both products of the Santa Maria Times.