Mateo was born in 1966. His father Santiago Romero (Cochiti) was a Santa Fe Indian School teacher and painter. His mother Cornelia was an anthropologist at UC Berkeley. Mateo grew up in Berkeley, CA and learned to draw by looking at comic books. He says that he started drawing by copying the work of Jack Kirby editions of X-Men.
He left California when he was 18 to attend Dartmouth College. He graduated in 1989 with a BA in Art and went to Santa Fe to attend IAIA for a year of postgraduate work before continuing on to the University of New Mexico where he earned his Master of Fine Arts.
Some of the artists that he admired were from the Bay Area, such as Richard Diebenkorn, David Park and Elmer Bischoff and the very famous abstract expressionists Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko and Andy Warhol.
His latest works incorporate combinations of his own photography coupled with brushstrokes of vibrant paints that captivate Native American scenes.
In 2008, a detail of Romero’s original “Deer Dancer Series” paint was used as the Santa Fe Indian Market poster.
“Everything is very alive when you work like this. You’re taking a risk and sometimes it doesn’t work. Buy when it does come through, it’s about being alive. Really alive.” – Mateo Romero