The video above features my cornichon poem written for the occasion and set to the music of the well know composer and famous gastronome Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868). The title of the composition is: Hors d’Oeuvres III : Les Cornichons — and this is not a joke. Quatre Hors d’Oeuvres et Quatre Mendiants are part of Rossini’s last sets of compositions called “Dernier Pêché Mortel, de Vieillesse” or in English: “Sins of Old Age”. These unpublished late compositions (1857-1868), now compiled in 14 volumes, were meant to be performed at private occasions in the composer’s drawing room. Below are the details of Volume/ Book 4:
Quatre (4) Hors d’Oeuvres: [The Hors d’Oeuvres here refer to appetizers]
I- Les Radis – radishes
II- Les Anchois – anchovies
III- Les Cornichons- gherkins
IV- Le Beurre – butter
The Quatre (4) Mendiants: [Mendiants refer to dried fruits and one of the Thirteen desserts of the Noel Provençal. Each fruit is supposed to represent the robe color of four monk orders] Les Figues sèches – dry figs — Carmel order
Les Amandes – almonds —Dominican order
Les Raisins- raisins —Franciscan order
Les Noisettes – hazelnuts — Capuchins order
This occasion lead me to reconnect with the marvelous Franco-Italian singer-song writer Nino Ferrer (1934-1998). I learned his “Les Cornichons” and even if you don’t know French, do listen to it. Nino Ferrer was a very interesting artist who had quite a successful carrier. His background included studying anthropology with André Leroy Gourhan and accompanying jazz musicians like Richard Bennett & Bill Coleman. Voilà — and merci beaucoup to Françoise Bevy for the photos. Enjoy!
The Adam’s memorial, Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, D.C.
This sculpture was commissioned by Henry Adamswho asked Saint-Gaudens to create a memorial for his wife, Clover Adam, who had taken her own life .
Those who have been following both my blog & facebook postings, might remember the various references I make on Augustus Saint Gaudens.
Augustus Saint Gaudens was born in 1848 in Dublin, Ireland and died in 1907 in Cornish, New-Hampshire. The reason I got involved in this project is because Augustus’ father, Bernard, was born in Aspet in 1816. Aspet is a village 28 miles away from my home town. In 2005 I was approached by Françoise Sarradet, a Saint Gaudens’ aficionados from Aspet who was then president of the French Association “Les Amis d’Augustus Saint-Gaudens”, to create a performance to celebrated the 100th anniversary of the sculptor’s death in 2007. The goal was to generate more awareness about the sculptor local origins and to preserve that memory. It is important to note here that Augustus Saint Gaudens was never well known in France. So, showing how famous he was in the United States and bridging the local connection was the goal of this first performance.
Bernard, August and Homer Saint Gaudens
Over the years several projects have developed, but I feel that the real meaning of this quest revealed itself while I was working on developing a script for a documentary about his life. I realized that I was not only interested in showing the artist’s oeuvre and his incredibly successful interaction with the art world of the time, but more by “walking in their shoes”. I found out that Augustus’ father, was a serious radical hanging out at Pfaff’s Tavern with Whitman, Clemenceau, Mark Twain to name a few. I was also made aware that there was not one piece of public art in New York when the Saint Gaudens’ family arrived in the city in 1848! So by shadowing their life I re/discovered the country where I live today (NYC/USA) and the place where I come from (the Pyrenees). I found their past in my present , and my present in their past. I am also an immigrant and generating a “dynamic” memory that can be inscribed in our becoming became essential and exciting.
List of projects:
2006— Itinerant residency visiting all the major sites hosting Saint Gaudens’ work in order to develop a performance to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the famous sculptor’s death in Aspet. Project commissioned by the Association les Amis d’Augustus Saint Gaudens & funded by the Conseil Regional de Midi Pyrenées. See photos here
-The show“Augustus Saint Gaudens returns to His Fatherland” was performed in Aspet in 2007 & in Luchon in 2008. Both shows featured the incredible French baritone Jean Ribet & my son Miles Joris-Peyrafitte as the best stage manager. The Conseil Général de la Haute-Garonne funded partially this project along with several local sponsors. The two short videos below are live excerpts from the 2007 show. We had a lot of fun and I cooked a pretty unusual “saupiquet” that was fed to the audience at the end of the show. I will talk more about this recipe in the future.
Jean Ribet sings “Arrenoulat” (the swallow). Song in Gascon written by André Bouery (1821 – 1879) a contemporary of Bernard Saint Gaudens. Arrenoulat is the —almost lost— anthem of the village of Aspet.
-In 2009 Yoan Rumeau asked me to write an extensive article in the scholarly history bi-annual La Revue de Comminges. I did and for this project I am in debt to my husband Pierre Joris for his editing.
-In April 2010 I presented an illustrated conference for the ACF (U.N French Cultural Association). Thank you to Françoise Bevy & Mme Françoise Cestac. Madame Cestac has a big fan of Augustus Saint Gaudens work for years.
-Then, last May, I completed the script for a documentary for now called: “Une En/quête- Collectages sur la Vie et l’Oeuvre Augustus Saint Gaudens”. This was certainly the most painful piece of work I have done so far on this project or at the matter fact on any other. I never gotten so close to being fried & eaten live! As my therapist said in the thick of it: “Nicole, this is the graduate program!” I learned a lot about the movie business, script writing, how to deal with undermining colleagues, and got the best workout on self confidence. So with the support of my husband, my family & great friends I pulled through! Needless to say that at this point I will pursue this project until it makes it on the screen weather I’ll get it done this life or next!
-The latest component I am working on is a website gathering all the info regarding my projects on Augustus. For now it is in French, an English version will be added sooner or later. So for now go brush up on your French @ :
There is a long list of people to thank and they know who they are. Though I want to mention a few institutions that trusted me enough to share their resources and passion for Augustus Saint Gaudens & without whom I couldn’t have even begin:
Saturday July 3rd 2010 was the 11th annual Tsatsawassa Poetry BBQ. Once again Bernadette Mayer & Phil Good opened their house to soulful poetry & food. Master of ceremony Dave Brinks flew from Nola with coolers filled with what might be the last delicacies from Louisiana for a while. This year’s festival mood was blackened by the Deep Water Horizon oil gushing.
A lot of the poetry spoke to the disaster and every morsel of Dave’s magnificent Jambalaya was taken as communion. Pierre Joris and I collaborated in making sangria and lamb burgers. A proud moment for us: our son Miles Joris-Peyrafitte gave his first public poetry reading, and so did his good friend Tommy Panitz. Miles also accompanied my reading.
With Alyssa and Katie we had great fun later in the night making an improvised dessert in the Round Pudgy Pie Iron —a.k.a as a Hobo Pie Iron—Alyssa had brought. We made two batters. Katie’s batter was a mix of left over corn meal cake mix, flour & oil. Mine was 2 biscuits crumbled, milk, egg & banana. We poured melted butter in the iron, warmed it up and then poured the batter. We propped the iron on a rock to make sure it would stay flat. The cakes need to be flipped after a few minutes depending where the pie irons are in the fire. We flambeed the banana ones with brandy, and served the corn cakes with honey and goat yogurt on top. Yummy!
You can view all the pictures on the website below. There is over 100 pictures so make sure you see all of them!
More painting, listening, writing, practicing than cooking the last few weeks. Below a text and a painting.
Many meanings, thoughts, influences, mythologies come into play here but also the french saying: faire avaler des couleuvres, literally: “to make someone swallow grass snake” meaning: “to have to do or accept something that one doesn’t want to”.
Pierre and I are en route to Chicago. We will take the train tomorrow and we have reserved a “roomette”, that is a sleeping car for two with all meals included. It is our 2oth anniversary and as we both have work to do in Chicago (see the announcement for Pierre Joris’ reading at the end of the post) we decided that 40 hours of confinement —that is if there are no delays— will be ideal to enjoy…or test our relationship!
More recipes and food reports will come soon. Meanwhile I am leaving you with a poem I wrote after a very inspiring visit to the Georgia O’Keefe: Abstraction show at the Whitney Museum. The piece was written using some titles of the paintings and a few lines from the Sarabeth’s advertisement brochure I had picked up at the coat check and used as a note pad. I read it at the Bowery Poetry Club on Sunday and you can read and hear it below. Voilà for now and off to the windy city!
January 7th, 2010 —
For & W/ Georgia O’Keeffe By Nicole Peyrafitte
Inside a clam shell
In the evening
Clam shell again
Painted and pungent
Red Black & Night
Black place #1
Black place #2
Black place #3
A wonderful redefinition
Of yellow sweet peas
An impressive wave
In the pool
In the woods
In lake George
Pink & green
Shipped to Alaska
Red & pink
Ballet skirt or
We will not be responsible
For black abstraction
At the rodeo
Music pink & blue #2
On Wednesdays only
In the desert
Black white & blues
The touchstone; a portrait
Or jack in the pulpit
A piece of wood
Sandwiches, snacks, pastries, muffins
Coffee and desserts
All above the clouds in 1963
A tent door
Everything she created
Blue & green
Though pelvis series
Red & yellow
Watch for the opening
My last door
Ever morphing feelings
Untitled red wave
Eggshell abstraction with
For your information:
Pierre Joris’ reading in Chicago : Chi Reading
Fri Jan 29 5:30pm