While shopping for poor-man furnishings at St. Vincent de Paul, my roommates and I discovered two amazing pieces of art.
The first was a fantasy painting by an artist named Derrick. According to the description on the back, he made the piece for a gal named Sara, "With all [his] heart and two years of [his] life." Apparently, the rendering of three Darth Vader-like lords battling a knight and an injured solider with a glowing probe did not make Sara feel the love. She gave the canvas to St. Vinny's -- that bitch! -- and we bought Derrick's love, and 730 days of his existence, for $7. Our second find was a photograph of a pissed-off, cross-dressing, whip-wielding baby, presumably from the late 1800s.
For me, art, especially the underground kind, is a vital part of a location's persona. Amsterdam is clad in mind-blowing graffiti. Paris houses art squats such as the (currently closed) Chez Robert électron Libre/59 rue de Rivoli. Judging from these gems unearthed at a local thrift store, was it possible that Wisconsin housed more than watercolor landscapes and Frank Lloyd Wright blueprints?
On Friday, my guest, Esteban, and I trekked up to Sauk City, initially in search of eagles -- wildlife is a passion for us both. The weather was rainy, the clouds were low. Not even a squirrel was in sight. We decided to forgo our initial intentions and continue on US 12 to see if we could find anything interesting.
A few miles past Kick-a-Boo Road (which rivals Crazylegs Lane as the best named Wisconsin street), we came upon a fascinating sight next to Delaney's Surplus -- a clearing dotted with large metal sculptures popping out of the snow. After driving the Civic into Delaney's muddy lot, we jumped out to get a closer look at the marvels.
While the Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black" pumped out of hidden speakers, Esteban and I trudged through the slushy, odoriferous maze of Delaney's Surplus' outdoor items. Empty water coolers, stadium signs, carburetors, washing machines and other odds and ends were plentiful, but an entrance to the sculptures was nonexistent. After purchasing a $1 jar of marbles, we were told by the cashier that a path had not yet been cleared to the neighboring abyss of insanity. We would have to make one ourselves.
Back through the piles of organized refuse, knee-deep in snow, pecked with drizzling rain, we finally came upon Dr. Evermor's outdoor sci-fi art park.
Esteban and I stood entranced with childlike wonder, taking in the massive metal structures composed of old instruments, car parts, cutlery and other recycled items. Painting a picture or sculpting out of a block is one thing, but to take items that have a predetermined purpose and shape them into creatures with vitality and life? This was a sci-fi city only a genius could create.
Esteban and I played air guitar among the band of ostrich-size birds made of French horns, trumpets and tubas. We rocked out with the iron frog band. We re-created scenes from Kubrick films alongside the massive machine gun apparatus. We danced around the tree-high, Seussical sci-fi structure known as the Forevertron. We made calls in the phantom telephone booth. We posed with robotic models. We frolicked with giddiness.
No one else was present to share our joy. And no one was present to tell the story of these grand pieces of art. Although the particulars may be found here (or here or here), we were glad to heighten our experience with our imaginations.
In the end, I have to wonder, "Was it real? Does magnificent art exist in Wisconsin, or was it just a manifestation of my subconscious?" I'll never know, but what I do know is that my car still smells like horse poop.