Sunday, September 22, 2013

Robert Dash (1931 - 2013)

Robert Dash, Painter, Writer and Gardener.
He passed away recently after a long illness.
He will be missed.
photo by Durrell Godfrey from here
I visited Madoo, Robert Dash's home, studio and garden creation some years back. There was a gentleman sitting out front on a wooden chair reading a book. A bench near him was stacked with brochures about the Conservancy and books by Robert Dash. I commented that I had really enjoyed the book and didn't realize until the seated gentleman said "Thank you" that the gentleman was Dash himself and not a volunteer docent. We had the beautiful garden to ourself that afternoon. I felt like I was given the gift of visiting a very special and private place.
Pink Field, White Field (1965) by Robert Dash
Oil on Canvas 72" x 60"
image from here
Madoo photo by Rob Cardillo
Madoo photo from KS at Gardenbook here
Robert Dash wrote a regular column for the East Hampton Star called "Notes from Madoo" The column below, in its entirety, reveals a unique voice that will missed, but not be forgotten.

Notes From Madoo: Clearing

What would we do without blue?
   Like all woes, clouds eventually part, go elsewhere, dissolve, evaporate, dry up, and reform somewhere far away, and the first signs of such doings are in slits of blue sky: reassurance and promise, safety, surcease above all else.
    What would we do without blue? What is it about the color that has taken the heart? Like the rose among flowers, it reigns as the king of colors, the angel of them all. Skies of course eventually clear. And blue. Good sailing and smooth sailing returned. We have fine measure and deportment and that wonderful sense of future good. Blue skies do not betray. There are no blue-eyed liars.
    Blue is an easily abused color, often misapplied and misconstrued, sinking into mud as easily as it rises as mist or steady fog when it is impossible to retrieve. It stands for valor, therefore courage and the stamina for it, I guess. Blue is what  endures when other hues fade. Blue is the Virgin Mary, innocence itself (a blank sheet with no mark, unfolded, yet to have value). It is persistence, durability, and worth. It is happiness and good fortune and blessings. The most longed-for color in flowers. (If only a blue rose or lily, tulip, or daffodil.) It is, of course, royal, the color of conviction, the color of allegiance and authority, guarding and preventing. It is attention, the color of legends and myths, mineral and air and water. The hue of flame and coals grown cold. All of the oceans are blue and all of the skies at times. Solitude, confession, troth, truth, and depression, and, for some reason, long the color of homosexual love.
    Memory and sleep. Telegrams in France were known by the color. And there were blue trains. Fishing with a long pole and no line and piling autumn leaves and not burning them. First communion and all oaths, promises and secrets and forbidden letters and kisses in the dark.
    There is the blue flower of Novalis, peace, contentment, and, perhaps forgiveness. Forgetting might just be blue. What is within the span of blue eyes is comprehension and wisdom, a long, thin spiral of smoke and liquid forever weaving in and out of life and time. Somewhere there is a lapis-blue city high in the clouds whose citizens are palest blue and wear blue clothes and speak in blue and their earth and water and pastures sparkle under a blue sun. There, books open and shut in indigo light and blue is the color closest to what the citizens read and there is little difference between the light of day and the darkness of night or the passage of time or the months of the year and on all of their blue occasions, the blue varying according to the weather, obedient to the temperature, satisfying to everyone.
    It is easy to break no matter how softly or well it is held. Is rain, is mist, solid as stone, hot and cold, in small bits and large, in all of your dreams and throughout all of your days and tomorrow as well as yesterday and everything that passes and will be, mind, body, heart, spirit, soul.

Robert Dash at work in his Sagaponack garden, Madoo
Photo by Frank Polach Courtesy of Madoo Conservancy

Tour of Madoo with Robert Dash and P. Allen Smith 2011
Sagaponack by Robert Dash
Limited Edition Serigraph here
Madoo photo by Kari Gercens

More about Robert Dash here:
photo from here

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