by Jean Di Lisio
Be prepared to let Frank Cordova’s crew at Rino’s satiate your sense of sound, smell, and taste, while his wife Valerie’s scenes challenge your visual and tactile senses!
Meet Mural Artist and Wife, Valerie Cordova
Sense of Sight or Vision
Valerie Cordova, American painter and muralist, wife of lead singer, guitarist and restaurateur Frank Cordova, seeks to adorn your dining experience by engaging your five senses. Frank and Valerie joined together 45 years ago in Hollywood, California, spending 20 of those years in Las Vegas, NV. While in California, Frank’s musical finesse found his bands playing with Etta James, Tina Turner, Glenn Campbell, The Righteous Brothers and Red Bone. Perfecting live music performances at Hotel Excalibur and Hotel Royale, Frank’s Trinidadian future is foretold.
Valerie’s enthusiasm for painting found her palette forging murals at the New York, New York Hotel and Casino with her Dutch artist friend, Sjana Nanni. Both were art students of Ray Fullmer, a protégé of Nicholi Fechin, Russian artist who resided in Taos, NM. Val acquired hands-on experience as a mural artist, asserting her expertise in portrait painting.
When they purchased the building on the corner of Main and Walnut in 2002, Val’s artistic sense enlisted Venetian plaster technique to enliven decorative finishes required in the Art of Faux painting. Her rich blend of Tuscany gold turned the walls centuries old. Refurbishing all the wood trim, they meticulously sanded off orange paint, replacing accents in a deep cherrywood finish.
Devoting her art study to the Art Nouveau period and Spirit of the La Belle Époque (the Beautiful Period 1890-1920s), Valerie portrays the likes of Alphonse M. Mucha’s female figurines. These figurative women in flowing robes, haloed by lush flowers complement Trinidad’s one and only restaurant who not only entertain guests with Italian arias, pop songs and crooning, but also serve up celebratory cocktails, specialty wines and beers, fanciful family favorites and luscious desserts.
Val’s recent completion of the twenty-foot wide by four-foot high wall mural above restaurant’s bar memorializes events leading up to the 1914 Ludlow massacre. On the left of her “wine woman” she depicts historical happenings at the site of the building. Here many towns’ people witnessed the “arrest of the striking coal miner’s wives and children.” During the march, Militia on horseback violently hunted down protesters.
Below the “Beer Lady”, the black and white collage of Fisher’s Peak leads to a tent city and the dark underground tunnels where men loading the coal wagons work in hazardous conditions. “How could anyone undergo the bitter cold and coal-dusted tunnels?” asks Valerie. “I can’t imagine how the early miners and families endured these daily challenges!”
Sense of Touch or Tactile
- Whenever you step out of your car at street level, touch the now tranquil red brick street.
- Grasp the smooth, strong rail as you ascend the red staircase to Rino’s Italian Restaurant.
- Next inside the foyer, track the Cordova lineage of Frank Rino and Maria Ruscetti Rino.
- Discover the stylized stokes on the circular window transformed into stained glass.
- After your seated at the crisp and sparkling clean white-clothed table, uplift your gaze above the antique bar mantel to the wide-arching contextual mural:
- Coal Miner’s wives and children’s marching protest
- Whimsical Wine Woman near the vines
- Diagonally pitched portrait of Rino’s Restaurant
- Bountiful Beer Lady blending the hops and wheat grass
- Colorful and casual display of inviting cocktails
Valerie utilizes purposeful and decorative subjects that enliven and emphasize the restaurant’s beauty. Majestically capturing the Cordova family legacy, Valerie comingles the rich local history throughout this curvaceous native stone building. Be prepared to contrast the callous conditions of the coal miners with the whimsical and flirtatious felines. While you connect your visual and tactile senses to maintain your balance, bring your taste buds back every week for Frank’s aromatic recipes and impressive range of music styles.
(719) 845-0949 • 400 E Main Street, Trinidad, CO 81082
Open Wed – Sun 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm • Closed Mon and Tues
From Pages 12 & 13 of our Summer 2018 Issue