mateo romero and hyrum joe

05.01.2008

Friday’s opening for painters Hyrum Joe and Mateo Romero promises some exciting new twists from these acclaimed artists. Hyrum Joe is expanding his repertoire of sharply detailed, figurative portraits in oil and charcoal to include watercolors, which lend the work more transparency. It signals a new approach to his traditional subject matter, which explores Native American life in the mid 1800s through the mid 1900s, a time of cultural upheaval and an evolving redefinition of Native identity. Whatever his medium, he brings forth a strong sense of place and an immediacy that transcends history. Mateo Romero, for his part, is also defying linear time by returning to his earlier exploration of social and political challenges faced by both native and non-native Americans. Using oils instead of his usual mixed media, he’s creating new narratives for familiar story lines. The resulting social critiques are trenchant and sharply observed, but compassionate. As Mateo says, “I’m trying to shake things up a bit and create something that’s new and old at the same time.” He seems to be striking a receptive chord—he was named this year’s poster artist for Indian Market by SWAIA, a much-coveted honor.

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