Kaleo's colorful life began in the culturally diverse city of Pasadena, California but, his upbringing was anything but rose colored. He was born to an unwed European-American mother and a Hawaiian-Spanish-Puerto Rican father who left the family before Kaleo was born which forced his mother to fend for her family on her own. Although Kaleo's mother provided more than enough love and spiritual support for her children, she struggled financially to provide for her kids later to be placed on welfare. She sacrificed her own well-being for her children as much as humanly possible but, still, Kaleo's early years were filled with hand-me-down clothes, watered down milk, and old rewrapped toys for Christmas.This would be a tough beginning on its own but, this was just the start of Kaleo trying experiences.
At the age of 5, Kaleo almost died when he had a horrific accident, falling head first from a three story structure, suffering various head injuries and two broken arms. Although an extremely traumatizing experience, his amazingly quick recovery would exemplify the mental, physical, and spiritual strength that would come to define this artist.
Perhaps the most challenging and difficult times for Kaleo, dealt with his mothers clinical illness known as Compulsive Hoarders Disorder. Kaleo's home was virtually filled to capacity with everything from old newspapers, and broken furniture, to cardboard boxes, and empty bottles and cans. Young Kaleo was punished if he ever attempted to remove anything from the maze of belongs which his mother had compiled. Because of this abnormal situation, no one, not even his closest friends were ever allowed into his home. Teased and embarrassed because of his family’s dilapidated car and home, Kaleo's already difficult situation soon reached its height.
The gas in Kaleo 's home was shut off. In order for them to turn it back on, the gas company had to enter the residence. Fearing that her children would be taken from her if the authorities saw the conditions within the house, she refused to allow them in. For the next thirteen years, Kaleo was without heat in the home; having to endure cold winter months huddled in nothing but blankets. And when he wanted to do something as simple as taking a shower, he was forced to take a pot of water, boil it on a hot plate, and bathe in the tub. Life was anything but smooth sailing for this intriguing artist but, these experiences are what he says have made him the strong, confident, and focused creator that he is today. He actually attributes his present-day artistic success and courage to, as well as his lighthearted, fun-loving and fully accepting approach to life.
Kaleos life has been filled with challenges but, he has always seemed to rise above all of the possible stumbling blocks and has created a quarry of positive stepping stones along the way. His upbringing in the racially mixed city of Pasadena, his attendance at a predominately African-American high school, and his later work as a teacher in the Pasadena Unified School District have given Kaleo a unique perspective on American society and our diverse cultures which are the subject of his artwork.
Kaleo has always delved into all things with a fiery passion. As a young musician, he was recognized with All-City Music Honors in Pasadena for his musicianship which later evolved into a successful career in the music business. He was signed to several record labels including Mercury/Universal Records, and as a producer, singer/songwriter, has had his music featured in numerous movies and television shows. He earned a Bachelors Degree from the University of California, Los Angeles(UCLA), where he was a member of the UCLA Football team which won the Pac-10 Championship and later played in the famed Rose Bowl Game.
His first love, art, has always served him well and he has always had a tremendous passion for that mode of creation. He was granted a schlorship at an early age for his visual works and studied under the tutlage of master teachers. He has continued to refine his skills and own personal style throughout his life. Now, Kaleo is a full-time mixed-media visual artist, and couture clothing designer with a passion for creating works of art which he says, “challenges the viewer and evokes emotion with the goal of uplifting his audience through cerebral works of iconic and commercialized juxtapositions.”