© Laura Walker

Mateo Romero (1966-present)

Mateo Romero was born in 1966 into a family of artists. His grandmother, Teresita Chavez Romero, was a notable Cochiti Pueblo polychrome potter. His father, Santiago Romero, was a Dorothy Dunn School trained watercolorist. And his older brother, Diego Romero, is a prominent ceramicist. From his family, he learned early in life about the value, appreciation and importance of art and artists.

Mateo asserts that painting and drawing have always been urgent, compelling, and necessary for him. He paints out of a need to communicate, to contextualize, and to form meaning in an ever-changing, fast-paced world around him. He calls his drive to paint “a manic demand deeply embedded in my psyche.”

In his painting, Romero’s Rio Grande Pueblo ancestry and spirituality manifests itself through the recognizable influence of modern and contemporary Western artists found in his painterly technique, sense of light and dark color mixing, bold brush strokes, and even use of image projection. His mixed media painting style can be described as a collision between painting and photography. He generates contrasts with color as he paints an outlined figure on a canvas. He is inspired by bold color, surface, texture, thick impasto, and image, and guides his brush to weave all these elements together cohesively.

Romero attended Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire and studied under Varujan Boghosian and Frank Moss. He briefly attended the Institute of American Indian Arts. At the University Of New Mexico in Albuquerque, Romero earned his MFA Degree in printmaking. At the School of American Research, he furthered his painting techniques as a Dubin Fellow in 2002. In 2008, he was chosen to be the SWAIA Indian Market poster artist.  Romero has shown at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts and is in the collections of the Denver Art Museum and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

Today, he is not only a successful painter, but also a writer, curator, and educator.

Romero lives in Pojoaque Pueblo with his wife, Melissa, and their three children, Rain, Povi, and Erik.  Mateo’s Indian name is He-tse-tewa or “War Shield.”

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