“At the turn of the millennium, I remain a Pueblo Luddite. I am infatuated with fountain pens, analog clocks, sable brushes, oil paint, and clay and minerals from the ground. I inherently distrust beauracracies (both Indian and non), corporations, electronic media, lawyers, governments, sunbelts, gunbelts, and the IRS. About the only common ground I find with my colleagues is Tribal government (which also seems shifty at times), a necessary evil where social interaction and positive change can occur.
I have always felt driven to make art, at an early age by my artist’s family around me, later by my narcissistic need to say something to whomever listens, and finally as a lifelong vocation and commitment to changing the world. I feel that I have been chosen by the work.
For me, the act of making art is like discovering the innocence of childhood again framed within adulthood. The act of losing oneself completely, becoming immersed in the medium and the mark making process is as old as time itself, unselfconscious, like marks scratched in the overhang of the canyon walls. From these periods where I close the studio door and lose myself come my most productive works.
I have been seduced by muscular, sensual painting. I am married to gesture, movement, colors that breathe, impasto palette knife work, thin washes of carefully drawn in paint. These formal qualities of easel painting have remained signature elements of my work, and I will continue to be faithful to them. They have contained a philosophical framework of how I view the world around me.
For me, the figurative statement has the ability to express feeling, need, hope, rage, love, loss, and human triumph. It also contains the promise of a future, held within the coding of a painting episode.
A touch of the past, a hint of the future, some antiquated tools and methodologies, and viola!, the molotov cocktail of the electronic age emerges. A thing (art), devoid of economic concern (hopefully), produced by someone in control of and connected to the means of production, meaningful to the individual and community it exists in, value proof positive in its ability to reach people and change their lives.
I am always looking. Through catalogues, Museum shows galleries, newspapers, and other artist’s studios. I am looking for art that is central, forceful, honest. Things that are true about life, elements of a larger human condition, to view, absorb, ingest, and remake as artwork. As I believe in myself, and my need to do this, I also believe in a reconstructive agenda for art and that ultimately things can get better.”
Contemporary Pueblo painter Mateo Romero was born and raised in Berkeley, California. Although his cultural background is an urban one, through his father Santiago Romero and his connection to their Southern Keresan Cochiti people, this experience includes much of the Rio Grande Pueblo world as well.
Mateo attended Dartmouth College and studied with acclaimed artists Ben Frank Moss and Varujan Boghosian. He received an MFA in printmaking from the University of New Mexico.
Mateo is an award-winning artist who has exhibited internationally in Canada and in the United States. He is currently painting in his studio at Pojoaque Pueblo where he lives with his wife, Melissa, and their children Erik, Povi, and Rain.