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Alebrijes: Creatures of a Dream World

Cantigny Park
June 1 – October 31, 2022

The partnership of Cantigny Park, the DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Mexican Cultural Center DuPage today announced a five-month outdoor art exhibit featuring dozens of mythical animals inspired by Mexican folklore. “Alebrijes: Creatures of a Dream World” opens at Cantigny on June 1, 2022.

The word alebrijes—pronounced ah-leh-bree-hehs—refers to imaginary creatures that possess elements from different animals. They originated in the 1930s from the vivid dreams of Mexico City artist Pedro Linares. The artistic tradition of alebrijes gained popular exposure in the United States with Coco, the 2017 Disney/Pixar film.

At Cantigny, located 35 miles west of Chicago in Wheaton, visitors will discover whimsical alebrije sculptures of assorted sizes throughout the gardens and grounds. A few of the creatures may turn up in surprising places.

“‘Creatures of a Dream World’ will be a park-wide celebration of Mexican culture, and a must-see for families throughout the region,” said Timothy P. Knight, President and CEO of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and Cantigny Park.

The Chicago-based McCormick Foundation, Cantigny’s parent organization, awarded a grant to the Mexican Cultural Center DuPage to help make the exhibit possible, along with sponsorship funding from the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen. The DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau is working with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (Illinois Office of Tourism) to secure additional resources and will commit marketing dollars to promote the event.

Six established artists from Mexico City, recruited by the Mexican Cultural Center, have signed on to create the alebrijes destined for Cantigny. The artisans belong to a collective that participates in the internationally known La Noche de los Alebrijes, a parade and festival in Mexico City held this time each year in celebration of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

Thirty smaller creatures (about 5 feet long) will be crafted in Mexico and shipped to DuPage. However, 18 larger ones—up to 13 feet tall and 8 feet wide—are to be constructed and painted in local studios. The artists will live and work in DuPage for three months leading up to the exhibition opening.

The partners believe “Creatures of a Dream World” can deliver a boost to the local hospitality industry. Area hotels and restaurants took a hard hit from the pandemic and are still recovering.

Admission to Alebrijes: Creatures of a Dream World” will be included with Cantigny’s regular parking fee, currently $5 per car ($10 on summer weekends). Exhibit dates are June 1 through October 31, 2022.

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