Spring Meditations Places in NYC (I)

Spring Meditations Places in NYC (I)

No need to go faraway, nor to spend a lot of money, to feel a total change of scenery when you live in NYC. My childhood friend Marika was visiting from Toulouse for two weeks and I wanted her to grasp the contrasts of the megapolis. The last post, Limulus Polyphemus, came out our long walk on the beach of to Coney Island. Friday after walking over the Brooklyn Bridge we headed to Green-Wood cemetery in Brooklyn.

Green-Wood opened in 1838. It is the resting place of 600.000 New Yorkers and among them some famous ones: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Leonard Bernstein, Lola Montez, George Catlin, Horace Greeley, Steinway and Bernard St Gaudens.

Bernard St Gaudens, was born June 26th 1816 in the village of Aspet in the French Pyrenees. This village is only 20 miles away from my birth town of Luchon. After spending time in Carcassonne, Paris, London and Dublin as a Compagnon du devoir, Bernard emigrated from Ireland in 1848 with his wife Mary McGuiness and their six months old infant: Augustus. Bernard became a successful shoemaker in NYC and Augustus Saint Gaudens (1848-1907) became the most famous American sculptor of his time. Last year I was commissioned to create a documentary performance for the 100th anniversary of Augustus Saint Gaudens death and got to do extensive research on his life and especially his French Pyrenean family. With the help of the Saint Gaudens National Historic Site staff I was able to find out where was Bernard’s final resting place.

Under a very simple white marble tombstone lay the remains of Bernard the father, Mary McGuiness the mother, and Andrew St Gaudens, the younger brother. Only Mary’s name is barely decipherable, thought she was the first buried there in 1875. it is a bit of an enigma why neither Augustus nor his brother Louis -who was also a very accomplished sculptor- didn’t erect a more significant tomb stone or plaque for their parents. Especially that Augustus and Louis made a beautiful tomb for the Stewart Family (Isabella Gardner’s father) in the very same cemetery! (see the picture below). Anyhow this is not a post about the Saint Gaudenses, though I love being carried away on that subject, and it is why I got to discover Green-Wood where I keep returning for guided tours, by the very knowledgeable Jeff Richman, the cemetery’s historian and author of Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery: New York’s Buried Treasure, or just for walks like Friday with Marika.

One of the big project of the cemetery is to mark the graves with specific gravestones for the nearly 3,000 Civil War veterans buried there. Among them the Prentiss Brothers who fought on opposite sides. They were wounded and reunited on the same battleground and brought to the Armory Square Hospital in Washington where their nurse was Walt Whitman. Below is a sample –with a beautiful French name– of the 3,000 gravestones that can be found close by the Saint Gaudenses grave.

Another interesting fact about Green-Wood is that it was the very site of the Battle of Brooklyn (A.K.A. the Battle of Long Island), the first battle of the American Revolution fought on August 27, 1776 by General Washington. The Minerva below was erected in 1920 to commemorate the Battle of Brooklyn. Minerva salutes the Statue of Liberty across the harbor. This clear view is being threaten by commercial developers. The website “save the vista” provides some info.

and below is what i am looking at:

I will conclude my post today with some views of the blooming grounds of this very peaceful place. Next post will be about the Chinese Scholar Garden in Staten Island.

Photos Marika Frioli & Nicole Peyrafitte

Recommended books:

Limulus Polyphemus

Limulus Polyphemus

The Limulus Polyphemus -or horseshoe crab- is coming from the age of “visible life” that is the Paleozoic era (440 -248 million years ago).
They are older than dinosaurs, older than flowering plants, they have ten eyes, spawn on the beach, molt around 17 times in 9 to 10 years & can live up to 20 years. These days, extracts from their blood are used by the pharmaceutical industry. Their eggs — laid on the beach — are essential to migratory birds who feed on them from nests that have been disrupted by waves and storms. The feeding of shorebirds has no adverse affect on the breeding success of the horseshoe crab.
They fascinate me. Below some pix taken Saturday at Coney Island and a painting of larvae & juvenile.
For more info check this wonderful site : Limulus Polyphemus

http://www.horseshoecrab.org/

an.an!

an.an!

An.An is a famous Japanese fashion magazine like Marie-Claire or Elle. Two weeks ago they had an issue about “cool” apartments in Paris, New York & London…and guess who made it there!…Yes, my place in Bay Ridge!
All my thanks to Nichi, friend and owner one of the coolest clothing store in Manhattan Lower East Side Madame Killer.

If you want to read the article click on photo for the bigger picture.

Back up!

Back up!

The taxes, a cold and problems with my ISP server kept me from posting for almost 2 weeks. I am over and done with cold & taxes but I still have not yet solved all the problems with my IPS server and the WordPress learning curve is a bit challenging for me! Anyhow, thank you for your patience and you need to know that I am really determined on posting regularly.

My offering today is a drawing/painting part of a new series that I am working on titled: ManyBody. This particular piece is dedicated to François Bedin who passed away a few weeks ago. In my hometown of Luchon, François was mostly known as “Petit Pois” -Little Pea-! The story goes that when in boarding school –with my older brother Pierre– he ate such a big plate of “Petit Pois” that he was almost never called by his real name again! He was a great friend and a very a smart and funny character.

ManyBody-Petit Pois

A higher resolution available at: http://nicolepeyrafitte.com/manybody/petitpois.jpg

Coney Island

Coney Island

I couldn’t resist the bright, but cool, sun on this late March Sunday. Forget about working on taxes, a much better idea is to pack a snack, water and jump on my bike. I have been very antsy to get to Coney Island from Bay Ridge. The 16 miles felt really easy. It is a much flatter ride than going up to Park Slope, but riding there twice a week sure keeps me in shape!
As you can see on the map below, the ride is mostly on Shore Promenade along the Belt Parkway and after that a good stretch on a deserted side walk.
Below the map do not miss the short slide show of pictures taken along the way. The sound track is my interpretation of a Robert Kelly poem translated into French by Charlotte Mandell. I hadn’t heard it in a long time & thought it was an interesting juxtaposition. It was recorded live by Kush in November 10th, 2001 @ Bard College on the occasion of: “A Day of Poetry to Celebrate Robert Kelly’s 40 Years at Bard College.”