Visiting the Home of Manuel Jiménez, Master Artisan

It was a great honor to visit the home of Manuel Jiménez, the master artisan from Arrazola, Mexico, who began the regional trademark craft of carving and painting (often highly imaginative) animal sculptures from copal wood, commonly known as monos or alebrijes.

Sr Jimenez regaled the group of us, visiting by special arrangement, with stories of how he came to develop his unique artistic style as a young shepherd passing time in the mountains. In our group happened to be renowned visionary artist Alex Grey, who asked Sr Jimenez if he had ever taken mushrooms or other hallucinogens to inspire his visions.

“No,” he laughed. His inspiration came from nature and from exceptionally vivid dreams.

We were then granted a tour of the studio, where he works with his sons to meet the growing demand for his highly collectible original creations. Seeing the work space of an artist is always a special treat for me – i get a certain insight into their process that is otherwise invisible. I found the brightly colored creatures in states of partial-completion even more charming than the finished ones on display.