By Raiza Giorgi

Two world-renowned artists, who work in completely different mediums, came together several times throughout their lives and shared a love of working in the Santa Ynez Valley.

Eyvind Earle lived in Solvang for 10 years. His work is held in the permanent collections of museums around the country and has been shown throughout the world.

A new art exhibition, “Crossing Paths,” debuts Saturday, Aug. 10, at Elverhoj Museum of History and Art, featuring artworks by American master Eyvind Earle and new works by sculptor John Cody.

These two accomplished artists first crossed paths in Solvang in the late 1960s as their work garnered critical acclaim and collectors came looking for their work at a local gallery. For decades their lives and artistic endeavors intersected, often inspired by a love for art and the local environment.  

“Eyvind and I were great friends and I knew him very well. I am so thrilled to be coming back into a gallery with his artwork next to mine,” Cody said.

Cody’s work is inspired by his love of the local environment – or more specifically, the serpentine rock in the mountains and the sandstone he finds in the creeks of the Santa Ynez Valley.

Cody’s work is found in public and private collections around the country and has been featured in documentary film. After his first one-man show in 1967, he was described by the Los Angeles Times as the “Miracle of Solvang.” That same year, Cody’s sculptures were first exhibited with Earle’s landscapes, a pairing that continued until 2006.

Cody said even though he took a long public absence from showing his work, he has been spending his time creating commissioned pieces and working on his masonry work with his daughter Emily Cody, who is finding a niche in the sculpting world herself.

“I tried to stay away from sculpting, but my dad found this piece of stone for me and I found it to be really therapeutic working and grinding. I love that he has been encouraging me to explore this world with him,” Emily Cody said.


The yard at John Cody’s home in Los Olivos is scattered with his pieces, including a Viking head, and commissions that have yet to be picked up, including the mountain lions that sit in the side yard.

“People comment on the mountain lion carvings as they can see them from the highway. I even scare myself sometimes because I will turn the light off in the shop and the glow from the neighbor’s light comes through and projects the shadow, which can be eerie,” Cody laughed.

Cody also loves helping people honor loved ones with memorial pieces, such as the soccer ball he made for Ricardo Gutierrez, a little boy from Solvang who died in 2014 from a rare disorder.

Local sculptor John Cody loves helping people honor their loved ones with memorial pieces, such as the Jeff Rio memorial at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School.

“People really love when I create something that they can touch and give love to in honor of a loved one. Those are the most emotional pieces I create,” he said.

The piece he made for the late Jeff Rio sits outside the entrance to the football field at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School, and each football player touches it for luck before their games.

Cody loves to make new pieces come to life. The call to make his sculptures never goes away, he said, but sometimes it takes time for a rock to speak to him.

“I had this one piece of rock that sat there for years and I kept trying to figure out what it was telling me. A friend of mine happened to walk by it and said, ‘That looks like a crab,’ and it hit me — that was what it needed to be, and a few hours later it was,” Cody said as he rubbed a piece of stone that he had carved into the shape of a hermit crab.

“This creative reunion was driven by Cody’s new body of work. After a 10-year hiatus, he has returned to carving stone with a renewed passion and vision,” said Elverhoj Executive Director Esther Jacobsen Bates.

Follow Cody’s newly created Instagram page @John_Cody_Gallery for an inside look at some of his work and personal life.

Earle’s career encompassed many different fields. An artist, author and illustrator, by the early 1950s he was working as a background painter on classic animated feature films. After about 15 years creating animated art, Earle returned to painting full time in 1966 and kept working until the end of his life in 2000.

In addition to his watercolors, oils, sculptures, drawings and scratchboards, in 1974 he began making limited-edition serigraphs.

He left a lasting legacy of contributions to the background illustration and styling of Disney animated films, and his work is held in the permanent collection of museums around the country and has been shown in one-man exhibitions throughout the world.

Exhibition programming includes a family film evening on Sept. 6 celebrating Earle’s cinematic legacy with a screening of Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty,” an artist talk with Cody on Sept. 28, and a stone carving demonstration on Oct. 12. This show is also a special opportunity for collectors, as many of the works will be available for purchase.

“Two separate journeys brought these artists together, spawning a lasting friendship and energizing their work,” Bates said.

The Elverhoj Museum of History and Art, at 1624 Elverhoy Way in Solvang, is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is no charge for admission, but a $5 donation is requested.

“Crossing Paths” will remain on display through Nov. 3. Follow the Elverhøj on Facebook and Instagram to stay current on exhibition events. For more information, visit or phone 805-686-1211.