It’s Father’s Day, a sunny summer day. What better day to go in search of the creator of the Forevertron and the Amazing Dr. Evermor?
Finding Delaney’s Surplus on US 12 south of Baraboo, WI is easy. Just look for the defunct Badger Armory which looms heavily on the landscape to the east.
Delaney’s is busy, the parking lot crowded. With directions from the cashier, we traverse the lot behind the surplus store, dodging pools of water from a recent downpour, sashaying around odd elements of things...metal, wood, glass...industrial-type objects.
I spy the top of the Forevertron through the treetops, and try to find a way to access the place, wandering down rows of surplus until I come to five wooden bins of huge white aluminum letters adorned with white reflectors. Someone has spelled out H-A-I-L-E-Y on the ground. I see a tiny path through the tall grass and wander into Dr. Evermor’s fantasyland. First I see an ancient telephone booth. It is red. It is old. Dr. Who could arrive any moment, tossing his multicolor scarf around his neck, looking all googly-eyed.
POW! You have been transported!
The Epicurean comes into view. It is a roach coach, but not a metal-box affair, no this is a fantastic moving machine with a big bellows at one end. I could nearly smell barbeque pork, or was it beef, being roasted inside. I would think they might have Elvis’ banana and peanut butter sandwich, or Gidget’s favorite...peanut butter and radish slices. Surely they would have fresh squeaky cheese curds too. This IS Wisconsin, isn’t it?
Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. One can’t be too sure within this environment of sensory overload.
The Forevertron dominates the central space. Rising heavenward, metal symmetrically bulging in shape after shape, it must be 60', 80', 90' feet across the bottom. Toward the bottom is a huge rod jutting toward the onlooker, and at the end is a small golden egg. I swear I saw something move, a twist of the metal. It was starting to activate. With trepidation I slowly walk around the transporter machine. If I see smoke coming out of the bottom, I am ready to bolt. I ‘ve watched NASA lift-offs. I know the signs.
Nothing whirred. Nothing stirred. I was safe.
So safe it was shocking to turn around and find myself inside an orchestra. Metal birds taller than me, constructed of musical instruments, were playing something jazzy. Like all good jazz players, the fifty or so players would allow the musician feeling the music, doing the zen, to solo off on some imaginary trip, letting the Universe take over the instrument, ad-libbing a tune from the heavens. I found a drumstick laying on a kettle drum and banged away trying to keep up with the birds. It was hopeless. I clunked, they went right on not noticing my blind attempt at joining in. Then I noticed the conductor and realized why no one noticed my tin-ear playing.
Next I crawled under the legs of a large mechanical insect. Whew! I dodged that danger and saw the Komodo Dragon. He is very red. He has many legs. He could swipe and you and PLUNK! You would be history.
I found respite at the art studio. The artist (I think she is the Dr’s wife.) Must have just finished up a class. The tractor-seated stools were empty, as was the instructor’s bench. Under the metal mushroom-capped shelter you could see wet brushes jammed into cubbyholes, tubes and pots of paint too. A session had just ended and I wish very much that I had arrived sooner so I could have joined in. Imagine the kind of painting you could make here!
It was hot. Did I tell you that? 90+ degrees. I was happy to see the Epicurean in the near distance. I didn’t feel like I could ingest any more so I followed a shaded path, looking down to make a careful foot placement so as not to fall into a Wonderland hole, and when I raised my head what should I see...DR EVERMOR!
I am not even kidding! There he was sitting in a shaded area with desks (I think it was the school section.) Talking to another man about salvage. Dressed in a bright orange shirt and an inky black felt hat he looked younger than the picture I had seen of him online. I reached out and shook his hand. “Dr. Evermor, I presume.”
“Today, maybe tomorrow.” he answered.
The other fellow noticed my camera and offered to take a picture of the two of us. I couldn’t resist.
“When did you start building this?” I asked the Doctor.
Being a prankster he answered, “Yesterday.”
Right then a Bermuda-short-wearing man, who had nearly run me over with his SUV near the Dragon, butted in. He said he was from Indiana, Amish Country. Well there are always snakes in every Eden, so I walked away and discovered a cannon infested with a troop of little foot-tall robots. I looked down the orange-painted barrel, and if I could have led the command...well, I probably shouldn’t inflict any violence.
From there I wandered eastward through salvage and saw the sculptures at the entrance. The gigantic red heart with an arrow piercing it was tremendous. BEAT BEAT BEAT WHISSSST! You are in LOVE! Goo...gush...oh my.
Retracing my steps I reentered the tiny path to exit. The “HAILEY” letters had been thrown back into one of the big wooden crates. Someone had made a new word...G-U-N. I chuckled.
Weaving through the salvage I could visualize creatures being born...add this to that and a dash of that...BINGO! I could feel the vibe. It was incredible.
GO GO GO You must experience Dr. Evermor’s creation. I have even heard that you can purchase one of the smaller pieces. That is if you are brave enough. I know I would be. I'm saving my nickels. It would be a once-in-a-lifetime taste-treat! Just like the park.
Ellis Nelson's Art Garage
Wisconsin Driftless Art Tour (self-guided with directions)