Saturday, September 12, 2009


Today we made our first visit to Madoo, the remarkable Sagaponack garden of the painter Robert Dash. He's been working on it since 1967, and its has the quality of a self-made paradise that I love best in made spaces -- that sense of one person eccentrically re-inventing tradition, making a private world. Though this dreamed spaec also opens out into history, and into the social space, since Dash is quite happy to welcome people in, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, from May to October.

The garden feels enormous, because it's a space of forking and divergent paths, because there are wide and open rooms and tiny and enclosed ones, and because you can never see it all at once. It's a green labyrinth, and it echoes the Garden of the Moon in Tucson (a kind of outdoor outsider art folly I described in FIREBIRD), and the Orange Show in Houston (there's a photo album of that on my Facebook page). But it also draws upon ancient gardens with its quincunx beds, and Rennaissance perspective, and Victorian Orientalism and love of the tropic and rare. It's a grand, unlikely, seamless synthesis, and somehow it doesn't look like anything else.

It's such a gift, to walk out of the daily world and into the alternate space of the enclosed garden, the visible, apprehensible artifact of a singular forty-year dream. I don't think it can be captured in photographs -- it's too much a surround for all the senses -- but you can get a little sense of it here.


Doug Otto said...

Good Evening Mark,

Your wonderful descriptions of Madoo reminded me of New Jersey's Grounds for Sculpture, located not too far from the Rutgers campus:

You might enjoy these peaceful acres, too.

Doug Otto
Haddonfield, NJ

apprentice said...

Sounds a beautiful place. Although a bit of me always quakes when I know forty years of life and living have gone into a garden, as I worry about what will become of it