Las Pistoleras Cultural Institute to host poetry reading

Originally published in Tempo, Taos News

Culture, food and feminine power are the themes of the poetry reading “In this kitchen breathes a sensuous woman.”

The event has been conceived to empower community and familial identity. It includes poetry by women of northern New Mexico, music, refreshments and promotion of Las Cabras and Que Linda chemical-free products.

The reading will take place on Saturday November 22nd from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Las Pistoleras Instituto Cultural de Arte, a business and educational space created by Dr. Theresa (Tessa) Córdova.

“Tessa arrived at the title of the event from a magnet with those words, given to me by my mother-in-law,” said her mother, Kathy Córdova. “I am in the process of writing a poem about it and I will read it at the event. Anna Martinez and other poets and writers plan to present as well. It will be a fun night.”

The Institute’s founder

Tessa Córdova earned a Bachelor of Criminal Justice from New Mexico State University, a Master of Arts degree in Southwest Studies from New Mexico Highlands University, and a doctorate in American Studies with an emphasis on culture from the University of New Mexico.

She currently teaches American Studies and Chicano Studies at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. She also performs in productions sponsored by Sangre de Cristo Liturgies, a company devoted to the preservation of the history, traditions and culture of New Mexico.

“I have played the part of Gila, a young shepherdess, in ‘Los Pastores’ for many years,” she said, “but now I am now more focused on the music. I am the musical director and co-direct the play with my father, Arsenio Córdova.”

El Instituto

The name “Las Pistoleras” stems from a poem about strong women written and performed by attorney Anna Martinez of Albuquerque.

“I come from a family of educators, culture bearers and artists,” Tessa Córdova said, “and I wanted to share my cultural values with the community so I decided to create the Instituto and named it after Anna’s poem.”

Artist Leo Romero made the outdoor sign which depicts two women, each carrying a rifle.

“If you look closely enough, you will notice the strong resemblance that one of them bears to my late grandmother, teacher, principal and author Josephine Córdova,” said Tessa Córdova.

The Institute serves as a dual-purpose space for culture and business. Besides featuring art exhibits and readings, it is also a store when people can buy herbs like sage, lavender, cedar, and products from Taos Herb Company as well as wreaths, books and specialty baskets.

“We also carry handmade pottery, jewelry, benches, quilts, pillows and knitted items for consignment,” said Córdova.

The walls display the art of photographers and artists.

“This shop illustrates the talent that exists in the area,” said Córdova, who often changes the artwork to reflect a specific theme of the season.

She has had La Virgen Show for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and has also created altars for the Dia de los Muertos.

“All the cultural activism that occurs inside reflects my love of sharing our rich culture and traditions with others,” said Córdova. “I invite the whole community to our poetry reading. Los esperamos!”

Las Pistoleras Instituto Cultural de Arte is located at 1219 Paseo del Pueblo Norte in El Prado, (next to Camino Real Imports and across the street from Red Arrow Emporium).