VIDEO: Oaxacan artist teaches Long Beach residents the art of ‘alebrijes’

Lea este artículo en español

Dante the dog in Pixar’s “Coco” may have put ‘alebrijes,’ or spirit animals, on the big screen, but Jara Avila has been dedicating much of her time to crafting the intricate patterns of these mystic creatures.

Hailing from Oaxaca, Mexico, Avila presented the artform’s painstaking method to her workshop guests at Ricardo’s Nursery in North Long Beach over the weekend. She talked about the history and folklore of the alebrijes and how the entire town Arrazola dedicates itself to perfecting these sculptures.

It can take several weeks for artists to complete larger pieces in a process that involves carving down a specific mystical animal from a copal tree, to sanding, smooth and, ultimately painting. It’s this last step that artists embark on a journey, with their brush as their guide, to develop elaborate patterns and designs. No two alebrijes are the same.

Avila’s workshops are over, for now. The reaction from the public was so great it has moved Ricardo’s to schedule similar events for the coming months.

For folks who can’t make their own just yet or just want one now, Avila’s completed alebrije figurines are available for purchase all week at Ricardo’s.

Ricardo’s Nursery is located at 6850 Atlantic Ave. You can contact them at 562-428-7252.

Support our journalism.

Hyperlocal news is an essential force in our democracy, but it costs money to keep an organization like this one alive, and we can’t rely on advertiser support alone. That’s why we’re asking readers like you to support our independent, fact-based journalism. We know you like it—that’s why you’re here. Help us keep hyperlocal news alive in Long Beach.

Sebastian Echeverry is the North Long Beach reporter through the Report for America program. Philanthropic organizations pledged to cover the local donor portion of his grant-funded position with the Long Beach Post. If you want to support Sebastian's work, you can donate to his Report for America position at