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Fantastic Oaxaca Painted Mexican Animals

The Alebrijes are brightly colored Oaxacan Mexican Folk Art sculptures of fantastical creatures. They seem to strike a universal chord with our shared human experience. Colorful and whimsical.  The first alebrijes, along with use of the term, originated with Pedro Linares. In the 1930s. Over the past 20 years this style has evolved dramatically from colorful and whimsical folk art into fine contemporary art. It is sought out worldwide by very passionate collectors who can’t seem to get enough.

 

JULIA FUENTES, From San Martin Tilcajete, Oaxaca. Daughter of renowned artisans Epifanio Fuentes and Laurencia Santiago. Julia Fuentes began painting at her parent’s workshop in 1989 when she was only 13 years old. A few years later she began her art education at the School of Fine Arts where she graduated as Art Instructor in 1989. Julia and her husband Juan J. Melchor started their own workshop in 2001.
Julia’s paintings are characterized by colorful geometric shapes on copal wood figures that her husband carves which she decorates with traditional spikes combined with Zapotec details, in a fusion of the past and the present thus adding a new level of depth to Mexican folk art.

 

Brothers Armando and Moises Jimenez are the grandsons of the master woodcarver Manuel Jimenez, of Arrazola, Oaxaca. Manuel Jimenez is generally acknowledged as the father of Oaxacan woodcarving, who turned the small farming village on the slopes of Monte Alban into a boom town. Armando and Moises work with their wives, Antonia Carrillo and Oralia Cardenas, and their children. They carry on the tradition of sensitively observed naturalistic carving and colorful but restrained painting mastered by their grandfather.

The story of Manuel Jiménez is now part of Oaxacan folklore. He struggled out of poverty to become one of the world’s most reknown woodcarvers. His early work focused on animals and people and he continues making realistic animals. Occasionally, he will add a twist or contortion to their forms.

 

  Isaac and Rosario Fabian are two of the better known popular artists. Using  wood from the copal tree, figures are carved, sanded, and painted by hand. They usually use  marble eyes in their works.

The carving of a piece, which is done while the wood is still wet, can last anywhere from hours to a month, depending on the size and fineness of the piece. Often the copal wood that is used will influence what is made, both because of the shapes the branches can take and because male and female trees differ in hardness and shape. Carving is done with non-mechanical hand tools such as machetes, chisels and knives. The basic shape of the creature is usually hacked using a machete, then a series of smaller knives used as the final shape is achieved. Certain details such as ears, tails and wings are usually made from pieces separate from the one for the main body.

After the carving, the figure is then left to dry for up to ten months, depending on its overall size and thickness. Semi tropical wood such as copal is susceptible to insect infestations, and for this reason drying pieces are often soaked in gasoline and sometimes baked to ensure that all insect eggs have been destroyed. As the figure dries, it is also susceptible to cracking. The cracks are filled with small pieces of copal wood and a sawdust resin mixture before painting.  The painting is generally done in two layers, with a solid undercoat and a multicolored designed superimposed.

THE BEST place in Puerto Vallarta to see all of this and much more is Peyote People  and  Galeria Colectika . Traveling around Mexico buying for Peyote People and Colectika, owner Kevin Simpson  has  had the unique opportunity to visit recluse villages, participate in ancient rituals and have befriended a number of different artists and their families. You will find a great assortment of  art at all price ranges!

Peyote People      Juarez 222 Col. Centro
Galeria  Colectika     corner of    Calle Guadalupe Sanchez and Calle  Allende