September 10, 2004

Cannon Art Gallery Exhibits “Beasts and Bones” Display of Papier-Mâché Fantasy Creatures

The William D. Cannon Art Gallery will present the exhibition Beasts and Bones: The Cartonería of the Linares Family from September 12 through November 5, 2004. The Linares Family’s unique position in the traditional Mexican art of papier-mâché (cartonería) bridges the gap between traditional folk art and fine art. Using simple materials, the family of artists melds playful forms of skeletal figures (calavera) and fantastic, mythical beasts (alebrije) into imaginative one-of-a-kind sculptures. This exhibition features over 70 papier-mâché sculptures by the Linares Family and their followers, borrowed from the Museum of Man in San Diego, the UCLA Fowler Museum in Los Angeles, and local collectors including Larry Kent.

Cartonería has a long tradition in Mexico but now is carried on by only a few folk artists, called cartoneros, who make fanciful papier-mâché objects for major celebrations during the year, most notably Easter Week and the Day of the Dead. Most cartoneros work only seasonally for fiestas and create anonymous, functional “folk” art for the community.

A spectacular exhibition of the sculptural masterpieces of the Pedro Linares family and their followers begins with an opening reception at the Cannon Art Gallery in Carlsbad this Sunday, September 12 from 5 to 7 P.M. Above center: self-portrait by Pedro Linares; above left: an alebrije sculpture by Pedro’s son, Miguel; above right: a calaca based on a Posada print by Pedro’s son Felipe. This showcase of seventy fantastic and delightful works closes on November 5.

However, within the last two generations, the Linares Family of artists, which has been making cartonería for more than 100 years, took this anonymous folk art form and elevated it to the status of fine art that is recognized worldwide today. The family art was in large part developed by patriarch Pedro Linares, who died in 1992, and is now carried on by his three sons, three grandsons and a school of artists devoted to the Linares tradition. All the artists live in a suburb in Mexico City. Using the simple materials of papier-mâché (paper and wheat-paste), the artists create a variety of imagery, but are noted for two themes: the calavera animated dancing, eating, music-making skeletons; and alebrijes - fanciful, mythical beasts of imagination. They specialize in imaginative, one-of-a-kind sculpture that is signed as a mark of individual authorship and authenticity. As a result, the Linareses no longer only manufacture objects solely for sale at local fiestas. Now they also create for the collector and are featured in museums and galleries in major cities throughout the world.

Cannon Gallery Coordinator Karen McGuire curated the exhibition. McGuire says, “I was introduced to the cartonería of the Linares Family in 1992 when I visited the UCLA Fowler Museum’s exhibition, En Calavera: The Papier-mâché Art of the Linares Family. I fell absolutely in love with the wild, animated skeletons and the weird, whimsical creatures that seemed to literally inhabit that exhibition space. Imagine my delight when Carlsbad resident Larry Kent visited the Cannon Art Gallery two years ago with photographs of his own Linares papier-mâché collection. He graciously offered to loan his sculptures to the gallery... and now here we are, extremely proud to present this current exhibition to our public.”

“Beasts and Bones” includes works from the collection of the San Diego Museum of Man, the UCLA Fowler Museum and the private collections of Larry Kent and Judith Bronowski. Additional features of the exhibition include Ms. Bronowski’s video documentary on Pedro Linares and photographs of the Linares family at work in their Mexico City studios by Annie O’ Neill, who served as folk art consultant to Nelson Rockefeller in building his collection.

A program of the Carlsbad Arts Office, the William D. Cannon Art Gallery is a focal point for arts and culture in San Diego’s North County, offering a broad range of exhibitions, school and family programs, gallery tours, lectures and publications to the community. It is located at 1775 Dove Lane off El Camino Real and is open to the public Tuesdays through Sundays. For information on the exhibition and all Gallery programs, contact the Carlsbad Arts Info Line (760) 434-2904 or the Gallery (760) 602-2021 or visit the City of Carlsbad website,

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