Dream Works

Appears in the July 2022 issue.

Mykel by Edgar Israel Camargo Reyes

By Macaila Britton

No, you aren’t dreaming. There really are 48 colorful mythical creatures taking up residence in Wheaton’s Cantigny Park (1S151 Winfield Road). Some small, some larger-than-life, all freakishly cool, the whimsical sculptures are part of the new outdoor exhibition Alebrijes: Creatures of a Dream World,running through October 30. Inspired by Mexican folklore, the five-month event is a partnership among Cantigny, the DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau, Mexican Culture Center DuPage, and the City of West Chicago.

Alebrijes (pronounced ah-leh-bree-hehs) are papier-mâché mystical animals created in the 1930s by Mexican artist Pedro Linares, after seeing them in a fever dream when he was battling an illness. Linares’s style of art grew throughout Mexico.

Patapez (Fishlegs) by artist Alejandro Camacho Barrera 

Linares’s dream, in turn, has inspired Fernando Ramirez’s own vision. As the president and founder of Mexican Culture Center DuPage, Ramirez wanted to bring alebrijes to the western suburbs. This summer his vision has become a reality. The exhibit at Cantigny was created by six artists from Mexico City who were recruited by the Mexican Cultural Center DuPage to bring alebrijes to life.

Visitors can explore the grounds to discover all 48 sculptures. Educational programs also provide a deeper dive into Mexican culture, including studio demonstrations and talks by the artists, as well as guided garden tours and kids’ workshops.

For a full schedule, visit cantigny.org. Park admission is $5 per car weekdays and $10 on summer weekends 

From left: artists Alberto Moreno Fernández, Edgar Israel Camargo Reyes, Emmanuel Arturo Zárate Ortiz, Perla Miriam Salgado Zamorano, Alejandro Camacho Barrera, and Roberto Carlos Martínez 

Photos courtesy of Cantigny Park (Patapez), Mexican Cultural Center of DuPage (Artist group Shot), and Jen Banowetz (Mykel)