Saturday, January 28, 2023     Volume: 23, Issue: 48

Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on December 19th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 42 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 19, Issue 42

Elverhoj Museum of History and Art hosts Danish artist Hanne Stovring

By Rebecca Rose

As Esther Jacobsen Bates walks through the main gallery of the Elverhoj Museum of History and Art, it's clear that something feels very different about this latest exhibit.

"You can see that big influence of [New York City]," she said, pointing to a large canvas marked by swoops of bright whirling colors, making out the shapes of people. "You see that bright pop of red and orange. ... It's beautiful art. It's beautifully executed."

Hanne Stovring’s work, inspired by her Bornholm, Denmark, home, is on display at the Elverhoj Museum of History and Art through Feb. 3.

Jacobsen Bates, the museum's executive director, carefully explains the progression of artist Hanne Stovring's work, showcased in a new exhibit called Nordic Light. Stovring, a Danish artist who hails from Bornholm in the Baltic Sea, is somewhat of a contradiction. 

Part abstract, part expressionist, part celebratory grafiti, Stovring's work is an important element in the Elverhoj's ongoing commitment to expanding their showcase of up and coming and established artists. The collection feels entirely refreshing, both for the museum and for the greater Santa Ynez Valley art community.

The Elverhoj discovered Stovring through the Danish Embassy; Stovring was working with the American Friends of SMK (the Danish National Gallery), an organization that seeks to strengthen the bond between Danish galleries and American art supporters. Through that, Jacobsen Bates eventually sought to find a way to bring Stovring's work to Solvang.

There are hints of Jackson Pollock and Claude Monet in her work, but everything is entirely Stovring, front and center. They exude an ocean of mystery, conveying wild emotions just beyond their sunny surface. The paintings are homages to love and family, telling the story of Stovring's roots and, most essentially, of the setting in which she paints them. 

Hanne Stovring, a Danish artist whose work is currently on display at the Elverhoj Museum of History and Art, places a strong emphasis on family and the bonds of love in her colorful and capitaving work.

"The pearl of the Baltic Sea, Bornholm, is the home of my inspiration, my stroke and my special light," Stovring wrote in an artist's statement. "Summer after summer, I have been sitting on the rocks, the grass, by the sea, in the sand. But most of all in my studio in Gudhjem."

Bornholm is a small island far off the coast of the mainland of Denmark. The island, marked by a massive Medieval castle in the north and dotted with characteristic round churches throughout, is often called the "Sunshine Island" for its inviting warm weather.

"Historically, it's been an artist's colony on the island," Jacobsen Bates said. "It is noted for the quality of the light because Bornholm is surrounded by ocean. That light really infuses her work."

The paintings in the Elverhoj exhibit came from Iowa's Museum of Danish America, where they were showcased. The paintings were driven via van to the Solvang museum, enabling them to get some of the artist's larger pieces for display. 

Many of Stovring's pieces were completed while she was living in Bornholm. Several years ago, the artist made a major move, uprooting herself to New York City. The impact of the change in setting is evident throughout much of her later work.

Hanne Stovring’s paintings are deeply affected by the special natural light at her home in Borholm, in the Baltic Sea.

"She found a different sensibility to the light and a different energy," Jacobsen Bates said. "New York City is such a vibrant, 24-hour city. You can really see it in some of her work–the big bold colors come from that New York experience. The energy is transmitted into her work." 

Indeed, the museum's latest exhibit has a completely unique vibe to it. There is an absolute progression not just in the boldness of her palette, but also in the narrative of the light weaving its way through Stovring's paintings. Some pieces feel effervescent, almost otherworldly and unreal, as colors merge with light seamlessly and effortlessly. In later works, from her studio in New York City, Stovring's work becomes more visceral, cemented to deeper lines and story points. 

"All of her work is very informed by light," explained Jacobsen Bates. "It's an interesting way it shows up–through the movement of the colors and through the lines in the work. It's a play of light and the people. It's just cheerful and bright." 

Stovring mostly paints commissioned works now, taking requests from all across the globe.

"I still paint life stories, relations and moods in the light of the sun, the moon, and the stars, and the city," she wrote in her artist's statement. "Human figures move in and out of my canvases–large, small, young, and old–everyone tells the stories and is a part of the Nordic senses and my Danish culture."

For Jacobsen Bates, that connection to Danish culture is what makes Stovring's work so important for the region and to visitors to the gallery.

"My favorite thing is hearing people's reactions to art," she said. "We work hard to educate people about the artist and work, ... but we want you, the viewer, to take away from it your own experience. ... I love hearing what people see in it." 

Arts and Lifestyle Writer Rebecca Rose would like to swim in the Baltic Sea. Contact her at 

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