VPAM workshop attendees learn alebrije-type art

By Melvin Bui

 The Vincent Price Art Museum showcased alebrije art during its monthly community art workshop. 

The museum always pairs an exhibit with the art being made, to show people that anyone can be creative with the right materials. 

This month’s workshop was on how to make an alebrije, which is brightly colored Mexican folk art that is made to replicate mythical or fantastic beasts.   

Alebrije are unique in character because they are not identical to each other. They are made year- round throughout and are not associated with any holidays. 

However in the popular Disney film “Coco,” the alebrije are thought to be spirit guides for dead people on Dia De Muertos. 

The alebrije being made was inspired by the pre-Columbian exhibit “Form and Function in The Ancient Americas,” located on the third floor. 

A ceramic vessel in the exhibit is made to look like an xoloitzcuintli, a sacred Mexican hairless dog that was domesticated by Aztec and Mayan people during prehistoric times. 

Pictures of the ceramic vessel were being used to make the alebrije. The pre-Columbian exhibit has a permanent spot at VPAM and was donated by Vincent Price.

The alebrije workshop has been one of the most successful family workshops. 

The event brought out more people than expected, with families coming out to look at the art and participate in the workshop. 

“It’s important for kids to be creative and spend time doing arts and crafts,” said Lizette Carrasco, a staff member at the VPAM.

Alebrije originated in Mexico City, Mexico during the early 1930s. Pedro Linares pioneered this art culture of constructing mythical beasts when it first came to him in a dream. 

Traditionally, they are made of paper mache and cardboard. However, as time progressed, people switched to wood because it preserved better. 

The workshop used felt to create the art pieces. Participants had different colored felts, decorations and pipe cleaners to choose from to decorate their alebrije with. 

They would first cut out a picture of an alebrije of their choice and then decorate it before glueing it in place. 

Before going to the workshop tables there is an open art gallery “Sueño de Familia / Dream of Family” that exemplifies the artistic legacy from the family of Yolanda Gonzalez.

 Some of the pieces date back to the late 1870s, made by her great grandfather, Juan Lopez. 

The art in the gallery was made in the span of 150 years, by five generations of family members from Mexico to the United States. 

The art exhibit is open until March 17.

The workshops are free and aim to expose children to history and art from different cultures from around the world. 

The duration of each workshop is usually two hours. Information on upcoming events are posted on the VPAM website. https://vincentpriceartmuseum.org/events.html

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