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The History of Solvang, the Heritage of Denmark  
2013 News Archive
News Archive

Friday January 18, 7 pm, Solvang School Gym, FREE!

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The National Danish Performance Team, a group of 28 dynamic athletes, will visit Solvang in January as part of their world tour. They will be leading workshops in local schools and give a free public show on Friday, January 18, at 7 pm at Solvang School gym.   

This is performance gymnastics at its best and the Danes have been leaders in this field for 100 years. It’s a dazzling and breathtaking display of the highest level. The Team presents a unique form of movement: traditional Danish gymnastics inspired by current dance trends, combined with artistic tumbling and acrobatics. The show—Zoom!—includes a mix of graceful movements, dynamic and energetic sequences, colorful choreographies, high flying tumbling, and powerful vaulting.  

The Team’s Solvang visit, arranged by Elverhøj Museum of History and Art, includes sharing a message of fitness with students at local schools and culminates with the January 18 performance.

National Danish Performance Team

“The Danes have selected 28 of the country’s most talented gymnasts and they are ready with a spectacular show,” said Elverhøj Executive Director Esther Jacobsen Bates. The young athletes—14 men and 14 women ages 20 to 26—represent the Danish Gymnastics and Sports Association (DGI), a nationwide non-profit sports organization comprised of 5,000 local clubs and 1.5 million active members. They arrived in California last week following travels in Africa, Vietnam, Cambodia and Taiwan. 

NDPT was created with Queen Margrethe II’s blessing in 1993 to showcase Denmark’s finest gymnasts. The Queen continues to serve as their Patroness today. The gymnasts participate on a voluntary basis travelling the world in the spirit of giving and by honoring their country as ambassadors of Denmark. Since its inception in ’93, Team gymnasts have visited more than 58 countries, and entertained more than 1.5 million people.

As an ambassador of healthy living, NDPT is proud to spread the message of The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition and First Lady Mrs. Obama’s Let’s Move campaign. The President’s Council and Let’s Move recognize and endorse the important message on healthy living and an active lifestyle promoted by the Team. These activities are a major part of their world tour, but the cultural dimension is just as important. Visiting different communities, sightseeing and staying with local host families are important elements and they contribute to the general education of both the visiting athletes and the hosts.

Thursday, February 14, 5 to 7 pm

Beckerman on harpAdd a little heART to your holiday and join us for Valley Wines and Valentines on Thursday February 14. The benefit party, from 5:00 to 7:00 pm, features live music and wine sampling along with sweet and savory bites.

Admission is $10 for members, $20 for non-members and includes an event glass, wine samplings, gourmet food and entertainment.

“Chef Haley, a Le Cordon Bleu graduate, is preparing beautiful and tasty food,” says Elverhøj executive director Esther Jacobsen Bates. “There will be appetizers, a Danish cheese board, a selection of locally made desserts and delectable chocolates. All these foods can be paired with a great selection of award-winning local wines.”

Flowers, candlelight and live music create a welcoming ambiance. A small, but select, silent auction will feature a number of highly desirable items including special wine bottlings, art and one-of-a-kind gifts. The winners of The Fabulous Valentine Raffle will be drawn at the event. Grand Prize is “Cupid’s Wine Cellar,” a 24-bottle wine collection donated by hand-selected local vintners. First Prize winner will receive 12 bottles of wine. Additional prizes will be awarded. Raffle tickets are $5 each or five for $20. Winners need not be present.

Valentines party proceeds support Elverhøj’s educational programs, critically acclaimed exhibits, and historical building.

Elverhøj Museum is located at 1624 Elverhoy Way in Solvang. For information, admission or raffle tickets, phone (805) 686-1211 or email info@elverhoj.org.

Valley Wines and Vallentines

Valley Wines and Valentines is sponsored by:

ERG , a privately owned, local energy company based in Santa Maria, with primary operations located in Cat Canyon. While a smaller energy company with only 25 employees, ERG works with over 100 local contractors, consultants, and suppliers. ERG’s success has allowed the company to “give forward” to local causes aimed at producing lasting and impactful results in the community.

AND BY the many generous Santa Ynez Valley vintners, bakers, restaurateurs and merchants who donate gifts in kind.

Saturday, March 2, 10 am - 6 pm (extended hours)

Young artist drop-in workshop — 10:30 to noon
Artist Panel Discussion — 4 pm
Social Hour — 5 pm
All Day — Living History Demonstrations & interactive activities for all ages

Saturday, March 2, 2013 is Free Museum Day in the Santa Ynez Valley.   Elverhøj Museum of History and Art, The Wildling Museum and Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum and Parks-Janeway Carriage House will all be offering free activities throughout the day.

Elverhøj Museum of History & Art will have living history demonstrations, interactive activities for all ages, young artist drop-in workshop 10:30 to noon, and an artist panel discussion at 4 pm with a social hour following at 5 pm. On display in the art gallery: The View From Here. Also on view is a new exhibit: Vikings Invade Elverhøj. Visit between 10:00am and 6:00pm at 1624 Elverhoy Way in Solvang. For more information call 805-686-1211. Elverhøj’s mission is to collect, preserve and exhibit the history and Danish culture of Solvang and to promote the arts.

The Wildling Museum will have a free family leaf printing art activity, a free raffle (prizes include a family membership and unique gifts), and special sales in their gift shop throughout the day. Visit between 11:00am and 5:00pm at 1511-A Mission Drive in Solvang. For more information call 805-688-1082. The Wildling Museum, where art and nature meet, offers visitors a unique perspective on the importance of preserving our natural heritage. New galleries and program space are currently being renovated, but visitors can learn more about plans for the future by visiting the gift store Wednesday-Monday 11:00am-5:00pm.

The Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum and Parks-Janeway Carriage House will be open from noon to 4:00pm at 3596 Sagunto Street in Santa Ynez. Visit the current exhibition Through the Eyes of a Child: The Quilts of the Family School, enjoy popcorn and other fun. For more information call 805-688-7889 or visit www.santaynezmuseum.org. The Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum and Parks-Janeway Carriage House celebrate the rich history of the Santa Ynez Valley, its pioneering settlers and the five early townships that formed the foundation of this unique region. Through its collection, exhibits and educational programs, the Museum honors the Valley’s past for the enjoyment of generations to come.

Free Recital Tuesday March 26

Experience the musical talent of a master pianist Solon Pierce as he shares his artistry in a free recital, Tuesday March 26 at 7:00 p.m. at St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Church in Los Olivos.  

Elverhøj Museum of History and Art presents this guest artist for a one-night-only event. The performance will take place in the intimate setting of the church apse with the audience seated in a semi-circle around the piano. A reception will follow.  

Solon Pierce

Dr. Pierce is slated to perform a wide range of selections from romantic and classic composers such as Franz Schubert and Ramon Delgado Palacios to jazz and contemporary styles from the turn of the century such as “In the Mist” by Bix Beiderbecke, “Novelette in Fourths” by George Gershwin, and even a few ragtime selections from “The King of Ragtime,” Scott Joplin. 

To prepare for his career as a musician, Solon Pierce completed an extensive amount of formal training. He began his postsecondary work at Oberlin College in Ohio, where he obtained his Bachelor of Music in piano performance. While working toward his undergraduate degree, he studied under Robert McDonald. After finishing at Oberlin, he enrolled in The Juilliard School, in New York City, for his Master of Music in piano performance. After additional work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Mannes College of Music, he received a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Dr. Pierce has performed extensively and given master classes at many colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Performance locations include Carnegie Hall, the British Music Information Centre in London, Magdalen College and Maison Française of Oxford University, the Fondation Danoise in Paris, the Vendsyssel Festival and Skagens Museum in Jutland (Denmark). Other performance locations include Copenhagen, Stockholm, Odense, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Vienna, New Orleans, Tampa, Honolulu, Seattle, St. Louis, Louisville, Albuquerque, Minneapolis, San Diego, and Toronto.  

A pianist with an enthusiasm for less celebrated, forgotten music as well as new work by emerging artists, Dr. Pierce’s performances have included world premieres of works by Kaikhosru Sorabji, John Cage, Gunnar Johansen, and Nicholas Brown. In the fall of 1999, Dr. Pierce was awarded an Alumni grant from Oberlin College to conduct research and record Gunnar Johansen’s Sonata No. 23 ('Trilogie der Leidenschaft') for Radio Denmark in Copenhagen, and he presented an article entitled “Glenn Gould and Gunnar Johansen: A Tale of Two Magi” at the 1999 Glenn Gould Gathering in Toronto. 

St. Mark’s-in-the Valley is located at the corner of Alamo Pintado and Nojoqui Avenues in Los Olivos. For more information, phone Elverhøj Museum at (805) 686-1211.


Elverhøj Museum of History and Art invites artists of all mediums to bring their art materials for a “Paint Out” at the historic Santa Inés Mission Mills complex on Saturday April 20, 9:00am to noon. This is a special opportunity to learn about the history of the site, meet area artists, and document the beautiful site located below the Santa Inés Mission.

Artists are invited to sketch, paint, make a color study or photograph the site for future work. An optional brown bag lunch and discussion will follow the Paint Out.

Paint Out Paint Out

Artists Peggy Brierton, Ron Guthrie, Renee Kelleher and Carol Wood will be working on site and offering their support and guidance upon request. Each of these four accomplished local artists displays their diverse visions of the Santa Ynez Valley in the current Elverhøj exhibition, “The View From Here.”

The property is part of the Mission Santa Inés National Historic Landmark District and includes olive groves, an historic grist mill, a fulling mill, and the beautiful Alamo Pintado Creek corridor with the Santa Ynez Mountains as a backdrop and the Mission in the distance. “With wildflowers dotting the olive groves, this historic site is an artist’s paradise in the spring,” says Elverhøj Executive Director Esther Jacobsen Bates. “And as Aldous Huxley wrote, ‘The olive is essentially a painter’s tree.’”

The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) manages the 39-acre property on behalf of the California State Parks and is in the process of developing a public use plan. The Paint Out is a collaboration between The Trust and Elverhøj.

The Mills property will be the subject of an upcoming juried art exhibition at Elverhøj. An open call for entries and exhibition specifics will be released in early summer. Interested artists can email info@elverhoj.org to be added to the list to receive a prospectus and entry form.

The Paint Out is free for Elverhøj members, $10 for non-members. Reservations can be made by phoning Elverhøj at (805) 686-1211, or via email to info@elverhoj.org.

Party on Saturday May 18
Click here for Elverhøj timeline.

Elverhøj Museum of History and Art is having a party that’s 25 years in the making. On Saturday May 18 the Museum celebrates a quarter century of service with an open house from 4 to 6 pm. There will be refreshments, craft activities for all ages and living history demonstrations. A short program will take place at 5 pm in the garden.

The occasion will also mark the opening of a new exhibition, “Essence of Elverhøj: Celebrating a Quarter Century of Service.” The focal point of the show is a timeline of the museum’s development, achievements, events and activities through the years. Additional displays will highlight exhibitions, volunteers, artists and the legacy of the Brandt-Erichsen family.

The Legacy of Elverhøj

Elverhøj Museum began as the dream home of artists Viggo and Martha (Patt) Brandt-Erichsen and their three children. He was an internationally recognized painter and sculptor and she was an accomplished painter and art teacher. In 1949 the Brandt-Erichsens purchased property on the edge of Solvang and set to work hand-building their home in a style derived from the large farmhouses of 18th century Denmark.  Ornamental wrought ironwork, a hand carved front door and colorful handpainted panels in the kitchen are just some of the permanent imprints of this talented family.

The house took almost four years to complete, with Viggo laying nearly every brick himself, as seen in the composite photo below, “Elverhoy Then and Now.”

Elverhoy then and now

On April 25, 1953 the Brandt-Erichsen family moved in. They named their new home “Elverhoy” (The Elves’ Hill) after Denmark’s first national play. Written in 1828 as part of the celebration of a royal wedding in Denmark, it was a family favorite. The new home, with its spacious art studio, soon became a venue for many cultural events, setting a tradition of supporting the arts in the Santa Ynez Valley.

The composite photo below shows Elverhoy "then and now" — Viggo Brandt-Erichsen personally laid almost every brick in Elverhoy.

Many years later, Martha Brandt-Erichsen gave a very generous and important gift when she donated her home to become a community museum. It was decided that the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Society would be the recipient of the gift and in 1984, the Board of Directors of the Historical Society formed the Elverhoy Committee. Original members were Pete Grigsby, Paul Burtness, Rosalie Cornelius, Elenita Merrill, and Dale Rossi. In addition, there was a Testamentary Committee formed to advise and guide the house-to-museum transformation. Original members were Thor Brandt-Erichsen, Richard Christensen, Johannes Jaeger, Karl Jorgensen, and Poul Palmer. (Other people also served on these two committees.) Working together, the Elverhoy Committee and the Testamentary Committee formed a joint Advisory Board of Trustees.

A Bigger Job than Anticipated

Much work had to be done to convert a private home into a public museum. Permits had to be obtained from the City of Solvang to establish a museum in a residential area and remodel the building. Erling Pohls, a local building contractor (and grandson of Hans D. Skytt, the man who had largely built early Solvang), was engaged to do the remodeling and the mandated seismic retrofitting. Project foreman Tory Griggs is shown below (left) with Thor Brandt-Erichsen during the remodeling.

Remodeling Elverhoy

Construction workers blended current building techniques with old-world craftsmanship to achieve an accurate historical representation of a late 18th century Danish building. Pine wood flooring was laid throughout to re-create materials used in Danish Provincial houses. The modern family kitchen was remodeled to reflect an earlier period by using older fixtures, a wood/peat-burning stove, and pine countertops, tables and floors. Family living quarters were turned into display rooms. The Brandt-Erichsen studio became a spacious art gallery with skylights.

On May 22, 1988, the museum opened to the public as the “Elverhoy Danish Heritage and Fine Arts Museum.”  Initially the newly rebuilt structure was furnished with items donated by the Brandt-Erichsen family and by Solvang residents and other friends of the museum. Richard Christensen traveled to Denmark to acquire Danish artifacts for the museum’s permanent display. While there he also established connections with the Danish Department of Cultural Affairs as well as various agencies and Danish museums.

Following extensive dialogue with the City of Solvang, in March of 1990 ownership of the Museum was transferred from the Historical Society to the City. The City also took possession of the substantial debt that had been incurred with the remodel and formed a non-profit corporation — Solvang Heritage Associates — to operate the Museum. Also in 1990, the name was shortened to “Elverhoy Museum.” In 1993, it was decided to change the name to incorporate the Danish spelling which is the name that remains today: Elverhøj Museum of History and Art.

In 2007, the City of Solvang transferred ownership of Elverhøj to Solvang Heritage Associates, who continue to oversee operations. The first director, Richard Sims, worked to establish the nonprofit status for the newly formed board. Esther Jacobsen Bates has served as Executive Director since October of 2003, overseeing an expansion of services and programs while creating new partnerships with area organizations and Denmark’s Embassy in Washington, D.C.

The Success of Elverhøj

Elverhøj today is a vibrant community institution whose mission is to collect, preserve and exhibit the history and Danish culture of Solvang and to promote the arts. Visitors can enjoy exhibits celebrating the Danish-American pioneer spirit and the colorful heritage of Denmark; view Solvang’s history through photos, artifacts and video displays; and linger in the attractive and spacious gallery which shows changing exhibitions of regional, national and international art. In addition, people come to take classes, attend lectures, and participate in educational, social, and fundraising activities. Elverhøj is recognized as a cultural center for Solvang and the area.


On Saturday June 22 Elverhøj Museum of History & Art will celebrate the year’s longest day with Solstice Sundowner, a benefit party with fun, fine food, and entertainment.

Guests will congregate at 5 pm under a canopy of oaks on the greens alongside the picturesque lake at Jonata Vineyards. The bucolic setting lies off Ballard Canyon Road within the boundaries of the nearly 9,000 acres that Solvang’s founders bought in 1910 for their new Danish colony.

Sundowner Sundowner

Superb wines will be flowing along with a Sundowner cocktail special. Tray-passed appetizers, and a gourmet dinner prepared by Ono Catering will be followed by a decadent dessert. Tickets for the evening are $100 per person. Seating is limited to 125.

Following Danish tradition, a Solstice “Sankt Hans Aften” (St. John’s Eve) bonfire will be lit by the water as the sun sets in the west. At nearly the same time, guests will be able to observe the full Moon rising in the east from this magnificent location.

We invite you to join us for this fabulous event benefitting the Elverhøj Museum, whose mission is to collect, preserve and exhibit the history and Danish culture of Solvang and to promote the arts.

For more information please phone Elverhøj at 686-1211 or email info@elverhoj.org.

Solstice Sundowner Sponsors

September 21 & 22

Elverhøj Museum celebrates Solvang’s history and Danish cultural roots with the annual Living History Festival, September 21 and 22.  Artisans, storytellers and craftspeople will demonstrate their skills and entertain visitors Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm. The public is invited; admission is free.

“Our beautiful, historic Museum comes to life with hands-on activities and entertainment for all ages, both inside and out in the garden,” said Esther Jacobsen Bates, Elverhøj Executive Director. “Artisans demonstrating woodworking, blacksmithing, and Viking chainmail construction will join some of our visitors’ favorite crafters making traditional Danish folk arts such as papirklip (papercutting), bobbin lace and paper Christmas crafts.”

Bobbin lace makers will create samples of their intricate work and offer guests an opportunity to try their hand at this centuries-old art. Exhibits come to life with demonstrations of spinning and weaving. Skilled craftspeople will teach visitors about centuries-old fiber arts and embroidery.

Guests are invited to linger in the Museum garden where blacksmith Hans Duus will be pounding out metal pieces. Joining him will be woodworkers and a stone carver demonstrating their crafts.

Docents clad in colorful folk costumes will be creating woven paper hearts and paper stars, traditional Danish Christmas crafts. Storyteller Randall McGee, always a Festival favorite, will perform as world famous author and storyteller Hans Christian Andersen each day.

Demonstrated in the gallery will be the fascinating art of Danish papercutting, with local artist and master papercutter Rick James Marzullo wielding his scissors. His amazing ability to create art with materials as simple as paper and scissors has garnered national attention.

On exhibit in the gallery is “Transitions: Wood as Art.” Functional objects in beautiful, rare and exotic woods celebrate the talents of furniture makers, turners and carvers. The Festival will be an opportunity to interact with some of these talented artisans as they demonstrate marquetry, carving and woodturning.

Rounding out the weekend of free activities are docent-led tours of the museum’s historical, cultural, and art exhibits.


Saturday September 21, 10 to 5

All Day:
Hands-on activities
Special exhibits
Guided tours
And some surprises!

Blacksmith: 10 to 4:30
Bobbin Lace making: 10 to 3
Danish Christmas crafts: 11 to 2
Hans Christian Andersen
     storyteller: 1 to 1:45
Hardanger Embroidery: 1 to 4
Lacemaking: 10 to 4:30
Marquetry: 1 to 2
Danish Papirklip: 11 to 11:45
Spinning: 10 to 3
Viking Jewelry making: 10 to 4
Woodturning: 10 to 4

Sunday September 22, 10 to 4

All Day:
Hands-on activities
Special exhibits
Guided tours
And more surprises!

Blacksmith: 10 to 4
Bobbin Lace making: 10 to 3
Danish Christmas crafts: 10 to 1
Hans Christian Andersen
     storyteller: 11:30 to 12:15
Hardanger Embroidery: 1 to 4
Lacemaking: 10 to 4:30
Spinning: 10 to 1
Viking Jewelry making: 10 to 2
Wood Carving: 11 to 1
Woodturning: 10 to 4

November 1 & 2

Friday November 1 – 4 to 7 pm
Opening Reception & Sale

Saturday November 2 – 10 am to 5 pm
Show and Sale + Food Truck 11 to 4

The Queen of Arts Show and Sale takes over the gallery and garden at Elverhøj Museum on November 1 and 2. Elverhøj combines a few of the Santa Ynez Valley’s favorite things—art, wine, food and business—at this popular annual crafts sale.

Queen of Arts kicks off with a lively reception on Friday, November 1, from 4:00 to 7:00 pm. Guests can enjoy wine and appetizers while shopping for unique items handcrafted by 37 area artists and craftspeople.

The show and sale continues on Saturday November 2, from 10:00 to 5:00. In addition to perusing a great variety of one-of-a-kind items, guests are invited to enjoy the latest food trend—food truck cuisine. Tiki Taco will be serving exotic fusion dishes from 11am to 4pm.  There is no charge for admission on either day. 

“From unique folk crafts to fine art, there is a great variety of imaginative arts with a wide range of prices,” said Elverhøj Executive Director Esther Jacobsen Bates. “We have nine new ‘royal’ artists who will join 28 returning for Queen of Arts 2013.”

Fiber artists offer striking fashion and home décor accessories, incorporating hand-painted fabric, hand spun fibers, and/or felted fabric. Exquisite hand crafted leather bags and accessories will delight even the most seasoned shopper.

Glass work, collage, mixed media work, and paintings will be available. Jewelry artists use vintage and contemporary beads, resin, feathers, semi-precious stones, hammered silver and more in their beautiful creations. Pit-fired, hand-built, or thrown pottery work will be for sale, as well as original garden art handcrafted from steel, stone and wood.  Some of the garden items include live plants.

Choose from a wonderful selection of handmade holiday ornaments and decorations to brighten your home and provide a lifetime of smiles.

Queen of Arts

“Royal” artists are: Emily Abello, Georganne Alex, Diane Arnold, Kristen Bates, Norah Bierer, Laurie Burnaby, Candace Cameron, Patty Desmond, Debbie Donley, Shari Eynon, Corby Fleming, Chris Hansen, Sukey Hughes, Gene Juel, Carol Kemp, Cindy Knight, Angela Lang, Robin Laroche, Jill McCutcheon, Syd McCutcheon, Mike McNutt, Monika Miehle, Vicki Mitchell, Lorna Morck, Shelley Nakano, Shelly Niro, Marty Orosz, Diana Paul, Petti Pfau, Christy Renken, Sue Sattler, Cheryl Seekins, Mabel Shatavsky, Deborah Simpson, Cari Summer, Leslie Vincent and Kristy White.

Funds raised are used for operations of Elverhøj Museum of History and Art and to support exhibitions and education programs.

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