Mexican sculptors and painters

Carvers and painters from Arrazola

Manuel Juan Jiménez Ramírez, born December 9, 1919 in Arrazola, is called the "king of the woodcar-vers" in Oaxaca. Manuel, who died in 2005 at the age of 86, was a charismatic person. He occupied himself with philosophical studies and believed he was the reincarnation of another renowned artist.

Angélico Jiménez Hernández was born July 01, 1954 in Arrazola. Since 1979 he has been married to Victoria Dolores Carillo Hernández, born December 23, 1967 in Arrazola. Angélico has been working as a sculptor, carver and painter for 43 years. The couple has three children, Manuel, a businessman and sculptor, Angélico, a painter and sculptor and María del Carmen. Manuel and Angélico work alongside their mother in Angélico senior´s shop.

Isaías Jiménez Hernández, born July 6, 1961 in Arrazola, son of the famous Manuel Jiménez, married since 1997 to Nicolesa Carillo Hernández, born December 6, 1975 in Arrazola. For 15 years Isaías has worked full-time as a carver and painter. In his shop, he is assisted by his wife, a painter.

Armando Jiménez Arágon specializes in animal-alebrijes. Most notable among these are rabbits in a number of different postures. He also produces alebrijes depicting animals not native to Oaxaca, for instance bears. He too is among the few carvers who also paint their alebrijes themselves. His favorite colors are yellow and blue. His wife Antonia Carillo helps with his work and applies the ground coat of paint to the alebrijes. In his childhood, Armando used to work on the farm of his parents, Alejandro and Rachel. He only started carving at the age of 20 after graduating from university.

Moisés Jiménez Arágon was born September 4, 1969 in Arrazola. Married to Orelia Cárdenas Córdova, born July 5, 1975 in Mexico City, since 1991. The couple has two children, Eduardo and Nancy. Eduardo works as a painter in his father´s shop, Nancy is still a student but helps in his free time.

Miguel Santiago creates only about 30 – 50 works annually, all of them made to order. Specifications by his customers are generally ignored, he alone decides on the design of his alebrijes. Miguel, born 1966, is a versatile and exceptionally gifted artist. He has been working as a carver since 1985. His son Gil Santiago, who now also markets alebrijes under his own name, has been helping him out for several years.

Maximiliano Morales Santiago was born October 12, 1973 in Oaxaca-City. Since 1985 he has been married to Betsabet Juárez Ibanez, born 1979 in Oaxaca. The couple has one child, Mayrel. Maximiliano´s father, Francisco Morales Ojeda, born October 10, 1948 in Oaxaca-City, was a carver, painter and farmer. Maximiliano´s mother, Lucia Trinida Soriano, born May 13, 1951 in Oaxaca-City was a house-wife. Maximiliano was introduced to carving and painting by his father. Maximiliano is among the best carvers and his father Francisco Morales one of the best painters in Mexico.

Eutiquío Morales is an excellent artisan specializing in animal-alebrijes.

Arial Playas is a very good carver and painter who mainly produces naturalistic animal-alebrijes.

Carlos Morales is a remarkable artist.

Damián Morales Martínez was born May 6, 1972 in Oaxaca-City. Since 1992 he has been married to Beatrice Morales Ramírez, born December 5, 1973 in Guerro. Damián´s father, David Morales worked as a farmer and carver. The couple has three children, Jennifer, Lemni and Yael Emanuel. Damián is an exceptional carver and painter.

Eleazar Morales Ramírez was born February 20, 1976 in Oaxaca-City. In 2000, he married Dora Ramírez González, born October 1, 1984 in Oaxaca-City. They have three children, Obeo, Amoi and Jasmine. Animals and religious figures are the models for his sculptures.

Edilberto Cortez is a talented carver. He manufactures alebrijes in the traditional style. He uses quiet and muted colors in pastel shades. His alebrijes are of high quality.

Narciso González Ramírez was born November 29, 1970 in Oaxaca-City. Since 1993 he has been married to Rubí Hernández Pinos, born December 31, 1971 in Oaxaca-City. He has been working as a carver and painter for 15 years. The couple has four children, Vilma, Elisabeth de Jesús, Jorge and Luis Angel. Narciso and his wife are renowned for their dog-alebrijes. The lean dogs with clearly visible hip bones and ribs always wear vibrant colors in Zapotec patterns. They also produce high quality alebrijes of otters, squirrels, tortoises and cats. Their painting style is unique.

José Hernández Morales was born August 14, 1940 in Arrazola and has been married to Lorenza Jiménez Hernández since 1970. They have two children, Evaristo Hernández Jiménez and Eraclio Hernández Jiménez. Both of their sons are artists and work in their father´s shop. José has been a sculptor, carver and painter for 40 years. He also works as a farmer. José Hernández was one of the first alebrije artists in Oaxaca. His animal alebrijes are primal and exude the spirit of his ancestors´ art. He is one of the grand artists of Oaxaca.

Mario Castellanos Gonzáles was born January 19, 1973 in Arrazola. Since 1991 he has been married to Reina Ramírez Gonzáles, born December 28, 1970 in Arrazola. Mario has been a carver and painter for 19 years, whereas his wife has been a painter for 15 years. Mario and Reina have three children, Yovani, Ivonne and Clara. Yovani works as a carver and painter for his father. Mario carves his sculptures from copal wood and his wife Reina colors them with acrylic paint. Reina´s sister Innes Ramírez, aged 29, also works in the shop as a painter.

Mario´s sculptures are on display in the Chiapas University in Campeche/Mexico. He is one of the best carvers in Mexico. His reptiles are generally carved from one single piece of wood even if, for instance, the tail has a very convoluted shape. The quality of his other alebrijes is also unsurpassable. Especially noteworthy are his armadillos in fantastic shapes and colors. His wife Reina is an exceptional painter known for constantly changing her designs and color combinations. She paints the sculptures, i.e. armadillos, cats, rabbits and coyotes with pre-columbian motifs, thus creating works of art of unparalleled beauty.

Bertha Cruz Morales was born June 8, 1975 in Cuilapan/Oaxaca. Since 2004, she has been married to Alfonso Castellanos Ibanez, born February 23, 1972 in Arrazola. Bertha has been working as a painter as her main occupation for 14 years. Her father, Pablo Cruz Hernández, born May 2, 1941 in Cuilapan/Oaxaca was a farmer. Her mother, Lorenza Morales Santiago, born August 10, 1944 in Arrazola was a housewife. Bertha and Alfonso have a daughter, Soledad.

Bertha is a famous painter. Every single one of her alebrijes is a unique work of art. None of her sculptures matches any of the others. Each of her sculptures represents a three dimensional painting of the highest standard. She predominantly uses Zapotec motifs in subdued colors. She is without restriction one of the best artists in Mexico.

Mauricio Ramírez is a very good carver and a former student of master carver Mario Castellanos. From him he learned how to carve and paint reptiles. His complicated lizards are of excellent quality.

Antonio Mandarín is known for his precise work. A favorite theme for his alebrijes are cats making music.

Víctor Cortez is a young artisan from Arrazola. He was trained by his uncle Jacobo Cortez and has since adopted his style.

Gerardo Ramírez is one of the best carvers in Oaxaca. His lizards and dragons are reminiscent of the works of Linares. He was the teacher of Mario Castellanos. Every single one of his alebrijes is a masterpiece.

Inocencio Vásquez is a very good carver. He is known for his groups of figures consisting of angels, drunkards, devils, nahuals and drunk skeletons. As the artist says: "With my figurines I show the combination of good and evil in life.".


Carvers and painters from San Martín Tilcajete

In the eighties, Coindo Melchor was one of the first carvers in San Martin to receive orders for alebrijes from merchants. They also displayed his figurines in their catalogues.

Isidoro Cruz Hernández was born April 4, 1934 in San Martín Tilcajete. He is married to Margareta Fuentes Vasques, born November 6, 1948 in San Martín Tilcajete. Their children are Francisco Javier, María Rocio and Bianca Nayeli. Isidoro has been a carver and painter for 14 years. His father Mauras Cruz Martínez was a farmer. His mother Refugio Hernández Ángeles was a house-wife. Isidoro creates animal-figurines, religious sculptures and recently predominantly masks made of copal-wood, cedar and sabino. He uses natural colors. His three children work as artisans.

Isidoro Cruz began carving masks for carnival at the age of 18. He is known for his fantastic wooden masks. He has maintained his distinctive style over decades which alone sets him apart from other artists. His alebrijes are being collected worldwide. In Mexico and the USA Isidoro is one of the most prominent artists.

His works always have close links to Zapotec and Mixtec art. His sculptures are frequently based on indigenous works of art discovered in excavations.

Margarito Melchor is known for his depictions of cats in motion. His carving and painting style is crude but very charming.

Martín Melchor is famous for his coarsely shaped and primitive alebrijes. He carves groups of moving animal-human-hybrids, mostly man-shaped giraffes or rabbits that ride motorcycles or play domino or musical instruments. His alebrijes are novel, cheerfully colored and unique examples of Mexican folk art.

Jacobo Ángeles Ojeda was born March 14, 1973 in San Martín Tilcajete. Since 1994 he has been married to María del Carmen Mendosa Méndez. For the last twelve years he has been working as a carver exclusively. Today he owns four art galleries. He already helped out his parents, both artists, with carving and painting as a child. His father Dionisio Ángeles Hernández was a farmer who worked part-time as a carver and painter. His mother Cira Tomasa Ojeda Hernández was a painter and seamstress.

Jacobo´s wife María del Carmen Mendosa Méndez was born in May 1977 in San Martín Tilcajete. She has been working as a painter since 1987. Jacobo and María have two children, Ricardo and María Sabina. Both children help out in their parents´ shop.

Jacobo and María are among the most distinguished artists of Mexico. Their works are in demand all over the world. Jacobo is a very talented, imaginative and charismatic artist. His works are exceptionally accurate and of high quality. His works can best be described as surrealistic.

María is one of the most creative and in my opinion most important painters of Mexico. None of her paintings resembles another. She is innovative and creative. Her brushwork is precise and resembles the delicate paintings found on ancient Indian pottery. Typical for her are finest Zapotec designs. Lines appear to be drawn with a ruler, complicated ornaments can be inspected with a magnifying glass without finding any flaws.

Epifanio Fuentes Vásquez and his extended family have been producing alebrijes for decades. Epifanio Fuentes, his wife Laurencia Santiago Hernández, and their children Iván, Zenen, Efraín, Rubí and Julia are among the best carvers and painters in San Martin.

Epifanio Fuentes Vásques was born April 7, 1945 in San Martín Tilcajete; his wife Laurencia Santiago Hernández November 14, 1957 also in San Martín Tilcajete. They have been married since December 13, 1970. Both work as carvers and painters, Epifanio full-time for 50 years. Epifanio´s father, Zenen Fuentes Méndez, born July 1924 in San Martín Tilcajete, has always been a carver. His mother, Bianca Vásquez Sosa, born in San Martín Tilcajete, was an artisan. Their other children, Angelica and Magali, are also artisans. Epifanio Fuentes is an extraordinarily talented and creative carver. Every one of his alebrijes is a very special work of art. No two of his works are alike. He belongs to the oldest and most successful carvers of San Martin. He is especially famous for his angels; they are painted by his wife Laurencia. She also taught her daughters and sons to paint.

Epifanio Fuentes was one of the first carvers to promote preservation of the environment and reforestation around the woodcarver villages. He has actively contributed to planting copal-trees around San Martín. His wife Laurencia, an exceptional painter, then paints the alebrijes with their basic color.

Zenen (called Zeny) Fuentes Santiago was born July 27, 1973 in San Martín Tilcajete. Since the year 1990 he has been married to Reina Pina Ramírez, born in May 1977 in San Martín Tilcajete. Zenen has been working as a carver for 17 years, his wife has been a painter for 21 years. Zenen (or Zeny) and Reina have five children, Fatima, Laura, María, Kaysi and Ali.

Zenen Fuentes Santiago is a very talented carver and painter. He paints most of his works himself. He puts more emphasis on decorative painting than on the motifs and ornaments of his indigenous forebears.

Among the sons of Epifanio, Iván Fuentes Santiago is one of the most talented carvers and painters. His cats, dogs, wolves, anteaters and lizards appear especially life-like, without being a photographic representation however. His sculptures differ pleasantly from the static depictions of animals of other artists and artisans. The composition of the different colors is harmonious, the design imaginative and reminiscent of the paintings of his indigenous ancestors.

Efraín Fuentes Santiago began helping his father at the age of 7. His sculptures are often large, very colorful and frequently coarsely painted. He uses the ornaments and patterns of his indigenous ancestors.

Rubí Fuentes is a talented artist who paints the sculptures her husband Efraín Broa carves. They mainly produce large, colorful animal-figures adorned with indigenous patterns in their personal style. They frequently use the distinctive herringbone pattern of the Fuentes family.

Julia Fuentes paints the animal-figures by her husband Juan. Like her sister Rubí, she uses a herringbone pattern on her larger alebrijes which are frequently decorated with Zapotec patterns. She is a very good painter.

María Jiménez Ojeda, born February 2, 1967 in San Martín Tilcajete, has been a full-time painter for 19 years. María's siblings, Cándido Jiménez, Alberto, Aaron and María Victoria all work together in the family´s shop as sculptors, carvers and painters. Their sculptures depict animals and religious figures. María Jiménez Ojeda belongs to the very good painters in Oaxaca. She uses the colorful designs of the Mexican embroiderers to paint the animal-alebrijes carved by her brothers.

Jesús Sosa Calvo has been a carver for decades. He works together with his siblings Francisca and Emigdio. Jesús Sosa´s alebrijes are especially sought after by collectors in the USA. He works uninfluenced by the changing tastes of the tourists and he has been constantly improving his skills as a carver and painter. He experiments with different colors and designs. Dogs, cats, rabbits and donkeys are the motifs for his alebrijes.

Aurora Sosa is a young carver with great talent.

Abad Xuana is a very good carver, his daughter Flor Xuana an excellent painter. Father and daughter work closely together. Flor Xuana exquisitely paints the delicate carvings by her father. Their devils, angels and saints are famous.


Carvers and Painters from La Unión

Martín Santiago Cruz makes religiously inspired sculptures. His carving and painting is frequently coarse, but very charming. His sculptures are painted by his daughters Benita and Carolina.

Jaime Santiago Morales, son of Martín Santiago, is probably the best known carver in La Unión. He is very talented and creative. He predominantly carves skeleton, devils, rodeo-scenes, peasants riding carts laden with fruit and pulled by donkeys.

Gabino Reyes, born 1962, is one of the most famous carvers in La Unión. He mainly carves animal-alebrijes like goats, donkeys and deer but also crocodiles, Zebras, mermaids, angels and devils. Sometimes his sculptures are delicate and detailed, sometimes very coarse.. His wife is responsible for painting his sculptures.


Carvers and painters from other cities

Luis Pablo Mendosa was born June 21, 1970 in Oaxaca-City. He has been working as a carver and painter for 17 years. His father Pablo Ramires, born 1930 in Santa Gertrudis in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, was a farmer. His mother María Mendosa Dionisio, born 1937 in San Dinisio, was a house-wife. Luis Pablo has two children, Benjamin and Dennis. Benjamin helps out in his father´s shop. Luis Pablo is an excellent carver and painter from Oaxaca-City. The quality of the carving and painting meets highest standards. He produces naturalistic animal-alebrijes as well as imaginative sculptures. He developed a paste-like painting technique that gives the surface a characteristic texture. The artist is most successful with his imaginative mythical creatures, such as dragons.

Joaquín Hernández Vásquez is known for his excellent masks.

Cirillo Ríos from Oaxaca-City carves large cactuses with colorful blossoms. His animals, mainly armadillos, are painted magnificently.

Medardo Blas is a well known master carver from the village of San Pedro Cajanos. He is a member of the Blas carver family, who developed a unique style of carving and painting. His alebrijes are distinguished by brilliant bright colors and unmistakable patterns.

David Blas is regarded as one of the best carvers of nahuals and groups of animals engaged in human tasks.

Melesio Blas carves and paints unusual alebrijes, for example dragons.

Felipe Benítez Miranda was born October 15, 1973 in San Agustin Guerrero, Mexico, and has been wor-king as a carver and painter for 26 years. His father, Liborio Benítez, aged 65 and born in San Agustin, is also an artist and paints on amate (handmade paper, bark). His mother Natalia Miranda, aged 60, born in San Agustin is a ceramist. Since 1987, Felipe has been married to María Lucina Aredondo Quiroz, born in San Miguel des Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico. María has been a painter and jewelry designer for 10 years. Felipe and María have three children, Oscar Samuel Benítez, Carlos Efraín and Zayra Daniela Ben. The children help out in their father´s shop in their spare time.

Felipe Benítez Miranda is a "Nahuatl tlacuilo" (Indian painter). He lives in the Nahuatl-culture of his ancestors, the Aztecs. He carves animals from his neighborhood which he uses as base and frame for his extraordinary paintings.