Note:Don Manuel left this world on March 4, 2005 and we will miss him more than we can say. His was a life well lived and well loved.

We would not be telling you of the origins of alebrijes and artists if it were not for Don Manuel Jiménez, beloved and esteemed initiator of the art form, and the primary catalyst for the collectors' movement as we know it today. When we refer to the man that gave birth to a thriving industry that has impacted countless lives as Abuelo, or Grandfather, it also because he is much more than an artist to those who know him. He is also a Curandero, one who is learned in the arts of healing and wise in the ways of the Spirit. The respect he commands is elicited spontaneously when in his company. Even if one hadn't already read about his years of struggle, of his revelations and his reinvention of himself, they would still be struck by the sense of wonder and delight with Life itself that emanates from his countenance. It is the very same essence that permeates every one of his creations, and charmingly draws in the viewer. Jiménez posseses an innate ability that very few have succeeded in imitating: the joyous portrayal of the innocence, beauty and integrity of his subjects; the hallmarks of his style are a deceptive simplicity and elegant precision.

Don Manuel has been an apt and faithful witness for his eternal Muses, and his journey has been a continuous love affair with his God, the Earth, and every manner of Creation. His legacy continues to expand and to benefit others exponentially; he faithfully recycles all that he receives by acting as Patriarch and Caretaker to the village of Arrazola, and to any and all that come to him with a request for a blessing.

Don Manuel's signature on alebrijes from the past few years to the present are most often accompanied by those of his sons, Angelico and Isaias, his apprentices-in-training. These two have clearly inherited their progenitor's skills. Grandsons Armando and Moises are already well-established and renowned for their work, which is in keeping with the inimitable Jiménez style. They will be featured in an future installment of Artists + Alebrijes.

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