Surviving 19th Century Immersion

NP 04/26/2010 —Ink & pastels on paper— 5×7  (hi-res here)

The only way I can survive the 19th century immersion I have to go through, is by having a sketch pad next to me and doodle as needed…really an obsession replaced by another. I found it healthier than reaching for a beer or a cigarette, though the thought has crossed my mind a couples of time! As already announced on the last post I will be giving a talk (in frog tongue) on my dear Augustus and family Thursday in NYC:

Comité des loisirs du personnel de l’ONU

est heureuse de vous inviter à la conférence de
Nicole Peyrafitte
Le Retour al Paìs d’Augustus Saint  Gaudens

Une En/Quête sur l’immigration, la vie et l’œuvre
du célèbre sculpteur Américain né en Irlande,
de père gascon et de mère irlandaise.
Le jeudi 29 avril à 18h15
Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie
801, 2ème avenue ( 43ème rue ), suite 605, New York, NY
more info on my work on Augutus Saint Gaudens here

NP 04/26/2010 —Ink & pastels on paper— 5×7  (hi-res here)

Talk/Sing/Glue: Save The Dates!

from NP the winslow homer seriesFrom the NP’s Winslow Homer Postcard collage series

I am looking forward to a variety of exciting events this spring/early summer. All the details are listed below & do not miss “Trialogues” —Joris/Peyrafitte/Bisio— at the Vision Festival June29th!

Events coming up:

Thursday April 29th 6:15PM
I’m giving a talk -with slides & IN FRENCH & free- on Augustus Saint Gaudens:

Comité des loisirs du personnel de l’ONU

est heureuse de vous inviter à la conférence de
Nicole Peyrafitte
Le Retour al Paìs d’Augustus Saint  Gaudens

Une En/Quête sur l’immigration, la vie et l’œuvre
du célèbre sculpteur Américain né en Irlande,
de père gascon et de mère irlandaise.
Le jeudi 29 avril à 18h15
Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie
801, 2ème avenue ( 43ème rue ), suite 605, New York, NY

more info on my work on Augutus Saint Gaudens here

Thrusday May 27th 7pm
MaelstrÖm Revolution Fiestival
Jerome Rothenberg/Pierre Joris/Nicole Peyrafitte
a group of Belgium Artist TBA
at The Invisible Dog
51 Bergen Street, Brooklyn

Tribes Gallery
May 21-June 27, 2010
Steve Dalachinsky, Bob Heman, Yuko  Otomo, Valery Oisteanu, Bruce  Weber
, Star Black, Aaron Howard, Nicole Peyrafitte and  Lewis Warsh.
Opening Reception

Sunday June 6th from 4-6

285 East 3rd St, 2nd Floor
NYC 10009

Tuesday June 29th 


Abron’s Arts Center
466 Grand Street
New York, NY

And still on view:

Michel Calvet / Nicole Peyrafitte / Jean-Pierre Rives
The World Bar /The Trump Tower
845 United Nation Plaza
New York NY 10017

Shikaakwa City Report

Logan Stepping on the City
From the Logan Monument

I am back from Shikaakwa or ” Stinky Onion” or as we call it today Chicago. The name Chicago is believed to be the French deformation of what the Miami-Illinois called the wild onion growing along the Chicago River. As expected, the weather was cold but I was prepared for it and it didn’t bother me a bit, au contraire. I convinced — or rather lured— Pierre into some mega walks along Lake Michigan. He didn’t regret it. As for me, they:


Impress memory

North Shore:
Sky    water    cityscape

Jade   turquoise   mauve-gold

Lincoln walking from his chair
Meeting with Schiller
Three mermaid boys & three cranes
at the Bates Fountain

Mist moist lost
Urbs in Horto

Tropical gardens?


Town Shore:
Mi’kmaq memoirs
tethered sways
Rippled reflections
Magalie’s fluo yellow
That’s a wake up call
Logan rears up
Lincoln sits down
Vulva building opens
To sharp German poetry.

South Shore:npchicago
Ice   ducks   republic
Gris    black & white    gold again
Rounds  & sharps
Ice creaks   ducks call
Republic alone
Fathoms the White City
No looking back at plastered Beaux Arts
Or Palace of Fine Arts
Science and Industry to prevail?

*  *  *  *


We had a marvelous dinner at Turquoise, a Turkish restaurant in Roscoe Village. Both my Patlicanli Islim Sarmasi  ­—Braised lamb shoulder wrapped in eggplant and lamb jus, and rice pilaf ($ 17.95) and Pierre’s Kusu Sis Kepab —Lamb seasoned, skewered , grilled, served with vegetables, rice pilaf, and yogurt sauce ($ 17.95) were exquisite. A delicate tomato sauce topped the skillfully folded and perfectly cooked eggplant filled with fragrant marinated morsels of tender lamb. The rice pilaf was fluffy and buttery. Pierre’s kepab was equally perfect. Upon arrival we were offered delicious home baked bread with a complementary plate of what I think was Patlican salatisi —Smoked eggplant, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, scallion and roasted red bell pepper. We were also offered each a Kazandibi — Caramelized butter, sugar and custard served with vanilla ice cream as a complementary dessert. We sat at the bar to catch the end of the Football game and Pierre ordered a Raki; it turned out to be on the house as we were the last ones and the register closed! Never had I experienced such generosity on visiting a restaurant for the first time.

After the wonderful bilingual Chicago Review reading at the Goethe Institute of Berlin poets —Christian Hawkey, Uljana Wolf & Monika Rinck — we had a good meal at the Armenian restaurant Sayat Nova. After Pierre’s reading at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago we had a not so good meal at The Italian Village but the company was beautiful & the conversation with poets Jennifer Scapettone, Natanaëlle (Nathalie) Stephens, Dan Godston & Jennifer Karmin very inspiring, so it didn’t matter. Dan, Jennifer, Pierre and I had a cozy nightcap at South Water Kitchen where we returned the next day for a light dinner before taking the train back to NYC.  There was also the rowdier night with Magalie Guérin a lovely French-Canadian painter. Magalie led the way to a bar/restaurant tour that began for cocktails at the Palmer House, to a fair Japanese restaurant  & to end with night cap at a Bar called Exchequer where we spent time trying to befriend a fierce Lithuanian waitress and comparing our accents!

*  *  *  *

npchicagoOn our first night in town we walked by the symphony hall and noticed that Pierre Boulez was conducting one of his 85th birthday concerts. We walked to the box office and got lucky enough to grab 2 of the last tickets! Watching Pierre Boulez conduct the orchestra is mesmerizing;  so elegant, so minimal I would dare to say almost liminal. The offering started with his own composition Livre pour Cordes, followed by Bartók’s Concerto for Two Pianos, Percussion and Orchestra and Stravinsky’ s The Firebird as the last piece. We read in the program that two nights later The Chicago Art Institute  presented a  Conversation with Maestro Boulez. “Mr. Bulless” —as the attendant who sold Pierre tickets called him— was reflecting on modernism with Phillip Husher, the CSO program annotator. Here are just a few of the notes I took during the talk:

— Importance to enhanced self teaching.
— The first “modern” composer was Beethoven.
— Paul Klee’s book on the Bauhaus lectures has been essential to his development.

—”Without Teleman I can live. Without Bach I cannot” —

*  *  *  *

And last but not least were my extended visits to the Art Institute & library educating myself in XIXe century sculpture and architecture with a focus on Augustus Saint Gaudens (1848-1907). The museum collection is a great place for me to absorb and contextualize the works by and information on his predecessors & contemporaries. The Art Institute owns beautiful ASG works, among them his bas-reliefs of Violet Sargent, Jules Bastien-Lepage & Amor Caritas.  There are also four of his major public art pieces in Chicago:
Lincoln Park: The Standing Lincoln  & The Bates Fountain —on the last one he collaborated with his former pupil Frederick MacMonnies.
Grant Park: The Seated Lincoln —behind the Art Institute—
The General Logan Memorial —Michigan Ave & 9th Street—

An other important fact is that Augustus Saint Gaudens was advisor on sculpture for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair —a.k.a The World’s Columbian Exposition or encore, The White City. He didn’t make any special work for the exposition but the first Diana that had been too big for the top of Madison Square Garden II found a home on top of the Agriculture Building designed by McKim, Mead & White.

The first version of Saint-Gaudens’ Diana is on top of the Agriculture Building, left.

Voilà the report for the Chicago trip. The train ride in the roomette was wonderful, we had no delays and the food was totally acceptable. I loved the interaction with the train personnel. The one thing I really dislike is the toilet in the roomette. That is the silliest invention ever, I would much prefer to have more space and a public john in the corridor. There would be many other observation to report but that will have to be  for another post. Thanks to all the welcoming people we met, hope to come back soon!

Pyrenean Piedmond


I am now in my birthland to gather more info on Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907) whose father, Bernard Saint-Gaudens,  was born in the village of Aspet in 1816. I will not go into details about it now,  but briefly want to share yesterday’s photographs, impressions & menu.

I left Luchon —family hometown where I am based— around 9:30am, a lovely & very unusual cloud was ornamenting the mountain. It looked like a natural pre-Xmas decoration or rather like a true pagan one! I drove away from the high peaks towards the luscious Pyreneans piedmont. The cloudy skies cleared and revealed an intense deep blue that I have only seen here. I drove what I think is the exact same road Augustus Saint-Gaudens traveled in December 1897 to journey from his father’s birth village, Aspet, to Salies-du-Salat where the dad grew up from age 6 till around 16.  The distance between the villages is about 20 kilometers. Except for the asphalted road, the landscape remains identical to the one Augustus admired over 100 years ago. There were no other cars than mine for several miles, no modern constructions, the few farm houses looked over 100 years old and the stunning panorama of the high peaks in the background was certainly unchanged!


I arrived in Salies-du-Salat around 10:30 am. A phone call to an elder resident pointed me to Bernard Saint–Gaudens’ family house. Despite some remodeling, the shape of the house/street remains pretty much the same as they do on the picture Augustus Saint-Gaudens took in December 1897. In the background, and from far, the 11th century tower and the 14th century church ruins are also the same, except for the tree in front of the tower.


Seeing Bernard’s house in the sharp winter colors & the crisp, clear Pyrenean air left me exalted. I got back on the road to meet a long time friend for lunch at Auberge Beaurivage, an excellent Basque restaurant that I was very much looking forward to try —the chef is a true Basque man — as we are only 2 hours away from the Basque country. As time was limited we had the menu du jour, though chef Philippe Picabea offers a selection of original creations as well as traditional Basque dishes that people drive many miles for.


I had a very fresh, perfectly dressed & copious “salade composées” that included green beans, cucumbers, hard boiled eggs, greens, plenty of onions & tomatoes. As an entrée my friend and her son had filet mignon with a Roquefort sauce. I had a pan-fried lemon sole with a moist and tasty potato & artichoke gratin. For dessert came a large rectangular plate that contained an espresso coffee surrounded by 4 mini desserts: a small cup of light rice pudding, a mini chocolate crème brûlée, a slice of cherry gateau basque, and a tiny cannellé. Price of the menu is €18. Totally worth it and compared to what I had so far on this trip this is rather cheap and one of my best meal. We had no wine as we both had to work in the afternoon. Voilà! Off again to the town of Saint-Gaudens for more work.


Aspet gardens-Saint Gaudens National Historic Site

What I miss most when I travel is cooking my own food. During my trip to Boston, Springfield (MA) & Cornish (NH) nothing I hate was memorable, though all very decent. The highlight was definitely a vegetable chowder and a lobster roll at the Windsor (VT) train station.  The focus on my trip was not food at all, but more research on Augustus Saint Gaudens (1848-1907). My first involvement with the American sculptor began in 2005 when I was commissioned to create a multimedia performance for the 2007 hundredth anniversary of his death. Augustus Saint Gaudens and I share common Gascon origins. Augustus’ father, Bernard St-Gaudens, was born in Aspet (French Pyrenees) in 1816 —the  village of Aspet is next to my hometown. Bernard St-Gaudens (they spelled their names differently) was a shoemaker, he left Aspet very young, moved to Salies du Salat, Carcassonne, Paris, London and settled in Ireland where he married Mary McGuiness in 1841. Together and with their 6 month old  son Augustus, they emigrated to the USA in 1848. There is currently a show at the Metropolitan Museum on the museum collection of the artist. Anyhow I will not get into details now, but I will leave you with the photograph of a funny article that I found in the archives at the Rauner Special Collections at Dartmouth. More soon!

Rauner Special Collections Dartmouth

ASG studio-Saint Gaudens National Historic Site- Cornish NHAdams memorial head-Saint Gaudens National Historic Site- Cornish NHAspet-Saint Gaudens National Historic Site- Cornish NHShaw Memorial-Saint Gaudens National Historic SiteSaint Gaudens National Historic Site- Cornish NHSaint Gaudens National Historic Site- Cornish NHSaint Gaudens National Historic Site- Cornish NHDiana in ASG studio Aspet-Saint Gaudens National Historic Site

Bourg d’Oueil & Show

Time flies in the Pyrenees. I have been here for a week and quite busy getting ready for our Sunday performance (see poster below). Still, I took the time to hike to my favorite spot: my name sake “la peira hitta” or the raised stone and by extension Peyrafitte!

We also had a excellent family lunch. We had great fun “collecting” our food. Pierre and I got up early to be at the market place before the rush. I wanted to make a kind of trout ceviche, from the best trout farm I know of. The farm is owned by long time friends, but the truck wasn’t at the market, so I convinced Pierre that we should take the trip to the fish farm. The shop was closed until later but the dad was there; he calls himself the trout keeper and doesn’t handle any financial matter but that didn’t prevent him to quickly knock out a 2 pound trout and send us home with it. I still haven’t paid my trout! But I will see his son on the market on Saturday. The recipe was simple. I fileted the trout, sliced it really thin, marinated it in lemon, olive oil, salt, piment d’espelette, chives, dill, a little lovage, a few borage flowers and a gorgeous edible iris.

Then we went to get some lamb at the neighbor and grilled it in the fire place. Pierre made a delicious ratatouille. We had some ewe cheese from the Village of Poubeau and a Croustade aux pommes from Luchon. Voilà for now, I must run to rehearsal but I wanted to share the joy! A léu

Summer Schedule

Dolmen de Coste Rouge

I am off Thrusday for 4 weeks to the South of France. First stop will be in Lodève (30mns Northwest of Montpelier) were I have been invited to the Festival Voix de la Méditerranée. The 10 days Festival hosts 80 poets/performers, 350 free readings in a 7500 people town! I have never been to Lodève and I am excited to dig into the history of the area. At around 300 B.C the town was a Volque capital, and I can’t wait to see the dolmen of Coste Rouge (see pix above).
Also interesting is the The Coat of Arms of the city of Lodève..–wink wink to poet Dave Brink & Megan Burns in New Orleans–. Once again: “Things fall where they lie”, when you will know that my next extended performance project will be the result of a -very- heuristic research project in New Orleans!

Lodeve Coats of Arms

Back to Lodève for now:
I will be performing every day at different times and different places. In case you would like to stop by, there is the detailed schedule at the link below:

After that I will be going to my native grounds to perform my documentary performance on Augustus Saint Gaudens at the Théatre du Casino de Luchon with marvelous baritone Jean Ribet and pianist Carine Pérez, Sunday August 10 at 9PM. Click picture below for details.

Augustus Saint Gaudens Project

I’ll report and post pictures as often as I can, you should subscribe to the RSS Feed to get automatically updated.

Stay fresh & ADISHATZ!