Dream Monsters and Alebrijes - deMeng de los Muertos 2018

If you're interested contact: Colleen Darling:  805-448-1509


A Note From the Organizer, Colleen Darling:

Join Michael deMeng for a workshop in Oaxaca, Mexico. Dia de los Muertos is one of the most beautiful celebrations in all of Mexico, and Oaxaca is one of the best places to experience it firsthand. Oaxaca is a delightful, welcoming, historical, and culturally rich city in southern Mexico. The city is home to some of the finest folk artists in the world and abounds with ceramics, textiles, tin, woodcarvings, jewelry, and more. There is also a prolific contemporary art and photography community based here. The restaurants, luscious food, and friendly people make Oaxaca an amazing place to visit.

Throughout our 9-day stay, people around the city will be getting ready for Dia de los Muertos with every home and business setting up ofrendas and preparing for the feast. The city is buzzing with excitement that spills onto the streets. The photo opportunities are endless. Each time you head out the door for the Zocalo or just a walk around the neighborhood something new will catch your attention. Flowers on the street corners, students competing in school ofrenda competitions, comparsas (parades) winding through the streets with traditional dancers, village bands and so much more!

We hope you can join us this year!




In 1936, at 30, Pedro Linares, an artisan specializing in Paper-mâché, fell sick, and during this fevered state he began to hallucinate.  He dreamt about a very pleasant peaceful forest.  Suddenly the terrain changed and things went a bit wonky…rocks, trees and clouds transformed into bizarre creatures.   In the dream, he saw a lion with an eagle’s head, a donkey with beautifully ornate butterfly wings, and a rooster transformed into a bull hybrid.  The really strange part of his vision is that the beasts all began screaming at him.  “Alebrije, Alebrije, Alebrije”, they shouted.  The chanting grew louder and louder piercing Pedro’s brain.  Needing to escape the intolerable noise, he fled down a stone path where he came across a man who exclaimed that Linares had arrived too early and promptly showed him the way out of this strange world through a window.  Pedro Linares then woke from his dream.  From this vision, the fantastical beasts now known as Alebrijes were born.



The original Alebrijes of Pedro Linares were made in Mexico City of paper-mâché.   Over the years his creations gained tremendous popularity and notoriety…in fact, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo were said to be patrons of his.   Pedro passed away in 1992 but his family still keeps up the tradition, and the style has become quite popular among many artists in Mexico.   In fact, the style has become so popular that since 2007 there is an annual Alebrijes parade of giant paper-mâché monsters that wander the streets of Mexico City right before Dia de los Muertos.   

 In the early 1980s the concept worked its way down to the villages of Oaxaca where the creations were fused with the native woodcarving traditions of Southern Mexico.   The beasts are just as fantastical but the carved copal adds a slightly different quality to the work, but are still equally bizarre and magical to behold.

This year’s deMeng de los Muertos workshop will focus on these critters as our inspiration.  Our Alebrijes will be created slightly differently. Instead of wood or paper we will be transforming everyday objects into dream beasties.  Along with assemblage we will be exploring paint using not only my techniques but also the techniques used to traditionally decorate the unusual animals.  So…start dreaming…and we will convert your visions into wondrous monsters…and if you’re lucky maybe they will start chanting: Alebrije! Alebrije! Alebrije!

Shared Double $2095

Single $2595


  • October 25th (Thursday) - Arrival day in Oaxaca. It takes all day for the various flights to arrive so we don’t have any big plans. Just get there and start enjoying the city after a long journey. Take a walk to the Zocalo (main square) for dinner and sight seeing in the evening.
  • October 26th (Friday) - Breakfast. Class begins at 10:00 AM. Break for lunch at 1:00 PM.  Return to the workshop Welcome dinner 7:30 PM
  • October 27th (Saturday) – Breakfast. Class begins at 10:00 AM. Break for lunch at 1:00 PM. Return to the workshop. Evening free.
  • October 28th (Sunday) – Breakfast. Full day field trip to artisan villages with lunch (to be arranged). Evening free.
  • October 29th (Monday) - Breakfast. Class begins at 10:00 AM. Break for lunch at 1:00pm. Return to the workshop. Evening free.
  • October 30th (Tuesday) - Breakfast. Class begins at 10:00 AM. Break for lunch at 1pm.Return to the workshop. Evening free.
  • October 31st (Wednesday) - Breakfast. Cooking class. It is Halloween and the first night of the celebration, face painting and costumes if desired and then head out for the local dia de los Muertos events. Evening free.
  • November 1st (Thursday) – Breakfast. Optional trips to archeological sites of Monte Alban, Mitla or Atzompa. Afternoon is free. We will visit the San Miguel cemetery in the evening
  • November 2nd (Friday) - Breakfast. Afternoon free. We will visit San Felipe Cemetery in the evening, a gorgeous small cemetery with a farewell dinner to follow.
  • November 3rd (Saturday) – Breakfast. Fly away home


Shadowlands: Surreal Landscape Painting -

November 3rd-6th


Once upon a time…a long time ago…long before I learned the magic of “assemblage” I was exclusively a painter.  I used to love the strange designs and shadowy shapes the one might experience in the backgrounds of old silent films or odd light shapes silhouetted onto drawn shades.   Eventually these techniques worked their way into my 3D work, but I must say, there is something really wonderful about JUST painting. 

So…. I thought it might be fun to explore some of those painting techniques in a place ripe with a unique skyline, strange vegetation, and filled with imaginative imagery to inspire a slightly different take on landscape painting.  These will not be your Bob Ross style of scenes…instead, these will be landscapes that emerge subconsciously, and explore shadow, shape and colors.  That said…I suppose it would be okay if you were to paint the periodic “happy little trees” …that is…when it’s appropriate to do so.  

Single $ 995.00

Shared double $ 795.00

ADD on Workshop Itinerary

  • November 3rd – 6th 2018
  • November 3rd (Saturday) Breakfast Class begins at 10:00AM Break for lunch at 1:00 PM Return to class. Evening free
  • November 4th (Sunday) Breakfast Class begins at 10:00AM Break for lunch at 1:00 PM Return to class. Evening free.
  • November 5th (Monday) Breakfast Class begins at 10:00AM Break for lunch at 1:00PM Return to class. Farewell dinner at 7:30 PM
  • November 6th (Tuesday) Breakfast. Fly away home.

 If you're interested contact Colleen Darling



Other bits of info

-Itinerary is subject to change

-Airfare is not included. When searching for airfares the Oaxaca code is OAX.

- Included: Workshop, hotel, 9 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 2 dinners, and tours with an English speaking guide.

- Alcoholic beverages are not included



$250 to secure your spot. Please pay by check or money order to Colleen Darling

Balance due September 1st, 2018


Cancellation Policy:

• Full refund minus $50 administration fee, prior to August 15, 2018

• $250 deposit will be forfeited for cancellation after August 15, 2018

• No refunds (unless we are able to fill your space) after October 1, 2018


Hotel Information (Oaxaca)

Holiday Inn Centro Historico

Diaz Quintas No. 115

Centro Oaxaca


Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is strongly recommended. Check out Rick Steves for recommendations

and advice on types of coverage.


To Register Contact Colleen Darling