Sunday, February 20, 2011

Mexican folk art life-size "alebrijes" invade Missouri government center

Alebriges by Felipe Linares

14 Feb. Creve Coeur, Missouri.

Two life-size Filipe Linares paper mache alebrijes hang out of reach in Creve Coeur's government center's lobby, greeting, warming and scaring citizens of this American heartland city of 17,000.

On loan from the Laumeier Sculpture Park for a year, the pair of whimsical creatures--each weighing 20 pounds--may appear out of place in a city 88% white with a 2% Hispanic poplulation (2000 US Census). 

Not so, according to online reports.

Originally conceived by Pedro Linares (1906 - 1992), these highly collected and valued paper mache sculptures sprang to life after Pedro saw dragons, beasts, winged fish on legs, devils and skeleton figures traversing his dreams.

He gave birth to alebrijes, inaugurating a separate genre of Mexican folk art, taking root in the 1930's.

Pedro's son, Filipe, born in 1937, worked as an artist in residence at the Museum of Mankind, London in1992.

The Latin American art surge in Missouri may be no accident. 

I sense the artistic imprint of Dr. Julian Zugazgoitia, recently appointed director/CEO of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, about 250 miles from Creve Coeur.

Born in Mexico, educated at the Sorbonne Paris IV with a doctorate in philosophy, concentrating on aesthetics and modernism in the arts, Zugazoitia, who looks like an Oxford academic, dons a whimsical grin, hinting he too may have encountered these fanciful and brightly coloured fantasmas (ghosts) from Mexico's rich indigenous past.

Rock on and practice peace and love.

You can see ArtTraveler videos on YouTube and follow the trails of Dutch walkers Rob and Joost as they pilgramage from Seville to Santiago de Compostela (Via de la Plata).

Enjoy a walking holiday in our Andalusian mountains, near Competa, as well as week-long scupture and mosaic workshops. See: and

Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)

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