Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays

And merry christmas from the Oliver on this blog that nobody reads .... But its chill I don't read it either.

Monday, September 10, 2007

blog wrap-up?

Well, it's been a week since the last day of Bumbershoot. It's been a long, fun ride. I'm sure any blog readers who were at Bumbershoot and saw our exhibit can come to their own conclusions about how the display went. Suffice to say we were all pretty satisfied with it. The fire code only allowed for max. 50 people in the room at one time, so there was usually a line of about 20 waiting to get in and look at our stuff. That was pretty heartening. So was the sight of all the people walking out of the room talking about how inspired they were. Thanks, everybody.

Mary and I were walking down to Broadway the other day and were surprised to find two women who completely recognized us from Bumbershoot. They said they were inspired by LTLYM and were actually on their way home to complete assignment 61. Hopefully we'll have more such encounters in the future.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Free Viz Arts Day

Hey readers...

I'll admit that this blog hasn't amounted to much. But it still serves a purpose, and that is to let y'all know what's going on with the Learning To Love You More project. Only two more days until everyone gets to come see it.

This Friday is the Mayor's Arts Awards, a little ceremony held at noon at Seattle Center. (To recognize art that the mayor likes?) It's also the official opening of the Bumbershoot viz arts exhibits, which will be free and open to the public from 12-6 pm. Anyone who's learning to love us but doesn't want to pay for a Bumbershoot ticket should come on down. We'll be there greeting people and telling stories about the assignments. I'll probably even be wearing my suit!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Just a Few More Days!

Dear Readers,
I feel we've neglected you the past couple of weeks. But we've been so busy trying to finish up the last few assignments. We put polishing touches on many we considered "done" but were not yet ready-for-prime-time. We done extensive video and audio editing on many of the pieces that we'd shot or recorded but hadn't yet brought to a state of readiness. Many of these can be found on google video now.

The Installation of all our hard work occurs this weekend. All of the tactical pieces will be hung, squared, matted/framed and otherwise arranged on the walls and plinthes. We only have about 4 more assignments to finish up. One that we are having trouble with is the creation of our own LearningtoLoveYouMore assignment. While Bob frantically tries to get our committment of what this piece will be, we are trying to dig deeper to find something that can truly be meaningful and worthy of all the tasks we've already accomplished while at the same time being something that will be awesome to experience. We've thought of and almost agreed on at least 1/2 dozen different things, but still have found THE one.

Michael has written the lyrics to the world's saddest song and tonight I will put it to music. It is short, sad, and will pluck at your heartstrings. It's also in spanish. Covering the song by Crowded House has proved to be tougher than we thought and elusive to put our desired "spin" on it. There is the added dimension of this one that this song and the band who made it famous will actually BE at Bumbershoot and thus anything we do may well pale in comparison and people will be hearing both. No pressure there, eh?

And a week from Sunday in the middle of Bumbershoot and all its Broo-ha-ha, we will be presenting a lecture series.. Art is Where You Find It or possibly Everyone Can Do Art. We must have a flyer to advertise this so that it can be passed around to entice people to attend. We've got the concept and perhaps even some/most of the presenters, but we still must make the flyer. Just a week or two ago it seemed the least of our worries. Now it's at the forefront of the short list that Bob must have had immediately three days ago.

I believe we should have stuck with the original self-imposed date of July 31st. There are so many details to work out at the last minute that I feel we really shouldn't be still doing assignments. Plus the logistical challenges involved for the installers for last-minute items. We won't even MENTION that there are just this week two new assignments on the LTLYM website. Do we want to be able to say we've done 63 of the 65? Or do we want to be able to say - as we've been saying all along - that we've done ALL the assignments there. So two more assignments added to the mix. Nigel has knocked them out quite easily but that still means more to upload/convert/double-check/edit, etc.

Once the assignments are all finished I will need to make the CDs and DVDs we need for the show. Continuous looping audio and video. More media-engineering under my belt. Interestingly enough it is MUCH easier to edit video even with changing soundtracks than it is to edit audio. Who'd have thunk it?

So I will say "adieu" for now and hope to see you all at Bumbershoot. One of us will likely be there, in the Olympic Room for most of the festival. Look for Nigel in his pink suit!

Keep the faith - look how far it's taken us!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

This week's progress

This week we have been mostley working on Assignments #1, #10, #5, #44, #32
and a few others. On monday night Nigel finished Assignment #1, and he wore it to work on Tuesday. Then Neil, a fellow Greenpeep, took the pictures.
#10 Mary has been doing with the help of Pete, Mom, Dad. The flier has been completed, including colorful illastrations, and Nigel is getting it copied as we speak.
I have asked Amy, a neighbor about #5, Recreate an object from someone's past, She gave me three objects, But I need to find some good cardboard.
#44, make an LTLYM assignment, Everyone kind of has their own ideas about that one, but we have not decided yet.
#32 was finished on Monday by Pete, who cried in "Pay it Forward" a family favorite. If you have not seen I recommend you do.
If you have any questions or comments please post them.

~The Olivers

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Time Flies

Wow! We are coming down to the wire. Those of you watching our assignments grow on the LTYLM website will see that we have been busy, busy, busy. I've spent more time learning to use editing software for audio and video and how to combine and uncombine them than I ever dreamed was going to be necessary. Not to mention the conversion processing and hoops I've been jumping through. Pete has been doing some masterful video production, taking all the snippets and multiple angles of the same performance and splicing them together seamlessly with cool transitions and everything. I've been doing the same for the audio.

We have a lot of awesome minutes of recording from Pete's 8th grade graduation which we used for the "record a choir" assignment. It was really difficult to choose the 45 seconds to use. If you come to Bumbershoot, you can hear the long version. We had several technical glitches, not the least of which is trying to change everything to a format that can be used on the website. I wonder how many people don't get to have their A/V posted because they don't know how to convert it.

I spent some time myself looking through our posted assignments this morning (which didn't yet include the several more I sent to the master-of-all-postings, Yuri, last night). We have accomplished an amazing amount of work this Summer and we still have a bit to go. Nigel in a pink child's outfit looks like nothing less than a Pink Jedi. His art is amazing for someone who thought himself not an artist at the beginning of this journey. It proves our point that anyone can do art. Which by the way is going to be our lecture series which you can catch on Sunday at Bumbershoot - Anyone Can Do Art. We will have presentations from several people both in and out of the family on different types of art and some hands-on stuff so that people in the crowd can be convinced.

We are meeting weekly with the wonderfully patient Mr. Bob of One Reel who is managing to finesse all the conflicting personalities with the aplomb of a Deity. Kudos to him for keeping his cool while all around are continuously questioning the plan, the process and the outcome. We are about to do a little internal press releasing of our own so that people we know in Seattle don't fault us for not letting them know about our little summer project until it's too late. For those of you who don't plan to attend Bumbershoot but live in the area, the visual arts portion of Bumbershoot will be open to the public on the Friday before Bumbershoot from noon until 6pm. So if you want to catch all our art in one place and in person - check us out - we'll be there. It will be right after the Mayor's Art Awards.

While editing video, I've come across some footage of a project in progress. I'm going to try and post it to this blogsite, but in case I can't you can look for it on google videos. Well, must go now to compose Mary's art and text into a flyer of her day. Watch for it to be posted everywhere on Capital Hill (for assignment 10) and watch the website where you can click on "latest reports" of the Oliver family to watch them grow all the way to 63. Then you can give a cheer for us. Remember that 63 is the minimum. There are many projects that more than one of us has completed so I am going to be very interested in the final number to see just how many total projects we will have finished this Summer.

See you later!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

EARTH poster

I have committed more time to #18, recreate a poster you had as a teenager, than to any other assignment. Over the past few days I've been meticulously putting colored pencils to paper to recreate my memory of a rare environmental inspiration poster that hung (and perhaps continues to hang) in my old room in our house in Vermont. It's an awesome poster that's apparently worth $30 on eBay. I didn't imagine the amount of work involved in replicating it, but it's reminding me of my time in Waldorf school drawing tigers and wolves and fish etc.

Stay tuned for more video.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

one month away

So...Bumbershoot's in a month. That leaves us with a lot to do, not least of which is completing the assignments. I'm taking some more time off work, and skipping this year's Lollapalooza in order to get these done.

Our section of the LTLYM site now has 29 reports posted on it, which gives everyone a chance to check out a lot of what we've done so far. New to the site is my Mom's life story and one of her epic bedtime arguments with Pete. Stay tuned for more photo album pages, portraits of desires and shadows and of course more videos!!!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Videos are up!!!

Hey everybody,

We've posted two of our completed video assignments to YouTube. They're pretty freakin' awesome.

#13, recreate the moment after a crime.

#38, act out someone else's argument.

More to come later, including two featuring the incomparable talents of MARY.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Mikey's Choice

Updates to our section of the LTLYM site. Ch-check it out.

Assignment #32 is to draw a scene from a movie that made us cry. My Dad picked Sophie's Choice, which made him cry in 1982 but which he hasn't seen in years. So we decided to obtain that film so he could draw it...

and we ended up with three Sophies from three different places. One on reserve from the library, one from Netflix, and one VHS tape (if you forgot what that is, go here) borrowed from Pete's friend Stuart. So now Dad has a choice of which one to watch. Stay tuned for what scene he'll draw, 'cause it's gonna be freakin' awesome.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Home Movies

Hello dear readers (it seems we have some now!),

This week we're making movies. We have borrowed an adequate video camera from a chill dude named Winky, and we've begun filming the video assignments. Yesterday we completed number 38, acting out someone else's argument. I'm working on YouTubing it for your viewing pleasure, but I'm still working out the kinks in this new computer and haven't quite figured out how to upload stuff yet. Besides, we've got a lot of other stuff to do today, like:

#3, making a video about a small child.
#22, recreating a scene from Laura Lark's life story.
#47, re-enacting a scene from a movie that made someone else cry (this one's gonna be freakin' awesome).

In other news, we've got our own section on the LTLYM site!!! Yuri, the LTLYM guru, will be posting a lot of our assignments here as we complete them, so check in for updates and to see what we're doing. Also, don't forget to show some love for the viz arts portion of the Bumbershoot site...there's a sweet description and pic of us, and you can also read about all the other awesome exhibits that will be gracing this year's festival. And check out our other favorite sites too...including our favorite charities, news sources, and dire predicitions for the future.

That's all for now, as I'm off to work on some more assignments...we're gonna try and post to the blog every day now that y'all are reading it.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Little Info Blast

Hey whats going on ? Just a quick update on what we're doing. We are cranking in full gear trying to get all the assignments done tonight we actually went around town and picked up a few samurai swords for project #47 we chose the ending scene of Kill Bill Volume I. So me and nigel are going to head down to the arboretum tomorrow and get a little sword fighting action. We're just working very hard because we have a goal set to be done with all the projects by the end of July which is proving harder than anticipated do to the fact that half the family works and i'm at crew for half of the day every day. But hopefully we'll be DONE AND DONE by the 31st and everything will be just peachy


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Heating Up and Getting On

Things have been heating up around Seattle this week. Our deadline looms as the temperatures soar. The first third of the projects were easy as they were things that interested us and we were enthused to get started. Then there is a group of things that are of interest but take more expertise/equipment/time/resources than are readily available to the average (speaking in global or national terms, not in Seattle terms) family. These are the group we're doing now. Then come just a few which don't seem to speak to any of us but are part of the group and so much be accomplished. Much like chores I think. Thankfully there are very few that fall into this category.

We've borrowed a video camera (thank you SO much, Winky!) for the week so I hope we can do our video shooting this weekend. With so much going on, it's becoming a bit more of a challange to track our assignments as well. To remember to photograph them for all of you watching the website that won't be able to attend Bumbershoot this Fall. For some items it seems as though there are two sets of projects, one for the assignment as stated on the website and the other for how we will display the actual piece at the festival. There are sizes and frames to be considered for photographs, how to impart the audio and video portions to a live audience, how to care for some of the work which is fairly fragile and for some pieces - how to keep them alive or care for them so they are still presentable in September.

This duality is one of the reasons we've given ourselves the end of July deadline. It gives us then some time to breathe and appreciate what we've done and also to make sane decisions about how to present them to all of you who will be attending Bumbershoot. Check out our ad at by clicking through to the visual arts schedule and then on our project.

Must go now - time to make a movie star of Mary!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Linked up

Hello dear readers (if we have any, feel free to make yourselves heard in the comments)!!! It's supposed to be a record-breaking scorcher in Seattle today, with the mercury as high as 97 degrees American. Hotter than what I'm used to, to be sure, but somehow I think we'll all make it through okay.

Now: the project. We've got a new self-imposed deadline of July 31st and a lot of assignments left to do, including several big ones. Yesterday I went and interviewed one Abe Osheroff, a veteran activist who's been fighting fascism for over 75 years (#59, someone who's experienced war). He is quite a character and will be an awesome edition to our show. Today we're in the midst of several other assignments, including #s 54, 36, 21 and 12. We'll see if we can get some serious work done on those before heat exhaustion takes over.

In other news, we have a new project manager. The incomparable Avery Bloom has been replaced with the veteran Daniel R. Smith, curator of the Seattle Havana Poster Show, which will also be seen at Bumbershoot. We haven't gotten to Dan too well yet, but he seems like a confident capable guy who I'm sure we'll get along great with.

And finally, more good news: we're finally linked to the Bumbershoot site!!! Hopefully this means more fans of our exhibit, more traffic for our blog, and hopefully it means they'll leave comments! If anyone leaves a comment today, I promise one of us will remember to blog again tomorrow morning. Until then, peace.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

How we're going along

Good morning, all,
We had a meeting with SuperBob last night where we gave him some more completed tasks, and let him know which we will give to him (hopefully) next week. There are parallels to doing this art to my work, clock repair: you might have a good idea of what you think is needed when you begin only to find at the end that the project had become something much different in the doing... But that's part of what I find so fascinating about clock work- solving the puzzle of what needs doing then figuring out how to get to that point. Anyhow,

This project has so united us; it has given us a long-term common focus. A family might be " in focus" like this for other things like pulling off a wedding or a move, but this is longer it time than that, and it's fun.

Be back soon, Mike

Sunday, July 1, 2007

New Pictures

Oh boy some new pictures isn't it exciting!!!!

Michael Working on #51

Petey and Nigel working on #46

Petey and Nigel working on #46

Michael working on project #51

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Overcoming Challenges

Some assignments are more challenging that others. For instance, no one in our family HAS a bald spot, so we had to create one. Here's that work in progress...

Our To Do List

Here's a photo of the back of our front door. It has all the assignments posted there so people can refresh their memory or pick something new to do as well as scribble ideas in the book nearby.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Hair we go!

Perhaps totally unrelated but perhaps part of learning to love more, today half the family donated collectively about three feet of hair to the "Locks of Love" organization. See for details. We all look very different. It was an easy thing for some and much harder for others. Perhaps we should post new pictures?!

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Today is graduation day. The whole family will be goin to see me Pete, graduate from 8th grade. I'm graduating from the Bright Water school and there making a pretty big deal out of it even though it's only 8th grade. We're also hoping to get project no. 29 accomplished today. By recording my choir sing Seasons Of Love, from the movie Rent at our graduation. So this is my first blog and i don't know what else to post.

Yesterday we had a meeting with Avery about setting do dates for all of the projects. So every monday for 6 monday we are going to give him at least 10 projects in full completion so for this upcoming monday the 18th we are going to have accomplished 13 projects about 6 or so of we already have mostly done.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Making waves and inroads

I suppose in Nigel's absence I will step up to the plate and fill in for him. Several projects have been finished and several more have been started. Then there are those in dispute. We have been having very interesting philosophical discussions of late about the nature of an assignment being "done". Since this art will be displayed prominently and viewed by thousands in person, there is an aesthetic sense felt by our project manager that is perhaps a step above or maybe a step beside where some projects might end were they only to be photographed and then viewed in two dimensions.

So topics of discussion are "Who decides when it's good enough?" "If the artist thinks it's 'done' but the project manager thinks it could be better, what's to be done about it?" "Will it be inhibitive to the creative process for a 'do-over' or just to know that someone is passing judgement?" More importantly might it cause a reversal of enthusiasm if judgements are made?

All interesting questions. There are some who feel that nothing should inhibit the creative process and an assignment is done when the person enacting it says so. Then it will be up to the Project Manager to display it or enhance its appeal by how they display it. Others feel a responsibility to make such an important representation of our family as good as we possible can make it, no matter the cost to the ego of the artist. Furthermore, can the ego of an older artist take more criticism than that of the younger? or vice versa?

Ultimately is this about the art or the learning? Art is the expression of what the mind knows and sees through what the heart feels. This begs the question - who is it for? Is the objective in the expression, in the experience, or in the manifestation which provokes the same emotions in the beholder? A combination of these or something else entirely?

Perhaps the answer is yes to all.

Now I must go and quite literally "make my bed." (See assignment #15)


Thursday, May 24, 2007


So the project's going smoothly.

I had a meeting with Avery on Monday, in which we basically discussed a lot of abstract stuff and got to know each other's artistic vision better. Another meeting will probably happen next week, and there'll probably be another delicious pie. That's something to look forward to.

I also talked with my Dad for awhile last night about art and the creative process. We went to the art-supply store this morning to pick up some new sketch pads and other items. It seems that each step like this that we take serves to legitimize what we're doing and remind us of the scope of this project and the many hours of time needed to complete it.

After our talk last night my Dad's begun to look within himself for inspirations on the best way to complete these assignments. I know that my Mom and I already have, as she's actually working on #45 every night before she falls asleep.

The challenge will be bringing the kids on board. Mary is precocious and has a short attention span, but her role in this will basically be to just be herself and be cute. Pete seems busy with school but I'm sure he'll be ready for anything once his summer vacation starts. Syd exists in her own reality and doesn't much care for the outside world, so we'll have to instill her with some kind of motivation. I think that the kids have been going to artistic, holistic schools for so long that they might have a subconscious mindset of art as work, because they have to do it for homework so often. This project will show them that art can be fun again.

I'll post again soon. I'll be going to San Francisco for a few days next week so it'll be up to others to update this blog and get an assignment or two done while I'm gone. We've also got other Olivers coming next week, specifically my uncle James and grandmother Peggy. I'm currently looking at ways to integrate them into the project.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

site visit

I checked out the exhibition site for the first time yesterday. Its exact location will be undisclosed, but I felt some deja vu, like maybe I'd been there before when I first visited Seattle.

Basically we're looking at transforming 3800 square feet of boring, industrial conference room into a welcoming, interactive representation of the Oliver family home. This can be done with a well-placed selection of Oliver-style furniture to make the room feel more homey, and focused, direct lighting to take people's attention away from the ugly walls. It's a big job, but I was impressed by the professionalism of Bob, Avery and Joanna and I'm totally sure they are up to the task.

This weekend we got underway with the assignments, and it's been a lot of fun so far. Once Pete gets back we should be in full swing.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Word from Mom

Wow, this is really happening. When this concept was first floated it seemed like an awesome idea, something cool that we could do as a family. Despite Nigel's assertion that we are not at all artistic, some of us think of ourselves as pretty creative. Personally I have no problems with execution it's initial ideas where I choke. To have a list of 63 interesting things to choose from and have the challenge be to make them "our own" is like a walk through a really cool park where I get to plant and pick the flowers.

And there are more challenges than just the 63. Because our art will be real and so must last and eventually be on display and not only viewed on the web, we have creative possibilities with display and use of space and even possible performance or interactive art. These are things we are keeping in mind as we traverse the path of 63 assignments.

After the initial meetings and a few clarifying conversations with Miranda, Bob, and Avery we were ready to go. Nigel, as Project Manager has already proven his worth. We've provided ideas for exection, each signed up for some of the items that appeal to us personally, and this weekend the journey began.

The entire family (less Pete, who's on his class trip) went downtown yesterday and accomplished 2 tasks. Mary and I did another over the course of yesterday and today. Nigel and Michael got together to fabricate one yesterday that none of us was really qualified to accomplish. Tonight I will begin a couple more. Some are very exciting, some are much more thoughtful. Others are have such detailed instructions that we are challenged to creatively execute them - an exciting prospect in itself. There are even some, you will find, that we will all execute individually and then collectively display to see how they turn out. These are the ones that entice me most of all.

But as with many things that I believe in, this too is about the journey as much as it is about the results. At first glance, Learning to Love You More seems a stretch as a name for many of the things it tasks us to do, though others quite obviously lead in that direction. But having begun the process, I find myself already learning to love more those that I already do. To accomplish this as a family means a level of communication, cooperation, collaboration and working together that we've had no cause to previously accomplish on a regular basis. I'm thrilled to be along for this ride!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

First thoughts

After last night's meeting with Bob, our neighbor and Bumbershoot bull goose loney, and Avery, the set (?) builder, I have just started to realize just how different this may be than I first thought. Today I still see it as a family art project, but the space to be provided for us is huge, creating both new possibilities yet also new responsibilities...

I'm still debating whether or not to look at what others have done on LTYLM as I don't want to be influenced by their work, but I also haven't googled Miranda July yet either- something I'll probably do today.

Be back soon, Mike

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Pie Meeting

I now know that the best way to hold a meeting is with pie.

Tonight our family had a meeting with Avery Bloom, who will be in charge of the layout of our exhibition. I knew that Avery was awesome as soon as he walked in the door with a fresh hot strawberry-rhubarb-craisin-granola pie and a pint of vanilla ice cream. It was probably the best pie I've had all year...this dude can bake with the best of them.

As we all sat around the kitchen table eating pie and discussing the creative process for this project, it finally dawned on me just how BIG this thing can be. The message of LTLYM to me is that regardless of age, gender, class, perceived talent level or whatever, anyone can create art. The Olivers are the perfect family to do this because we're not artists in the traditional sense of the word. As a family we don't have a lot of artistic talent or even much manual dexterity...we're just full of great ideas. The challenge now is to express those ideas in a way that is interactive and fun for all.

My hope is that thousands of families who see and experience our work will be inspired to embark on artistic projects of their own. As we've been brainstorming ideas for each of the 63 assignments, I realized that my Mom, Dad, Pete, Syd and Mary are all really excited about this project not because of the publicity it may generate or the cultural impact it may have, but because this is an amazing opportunity for us to grow closer as a family. I really believe that this will happen and that other families will take notice and do the same.

I look forward to working with my parents and siblings and with Avery, Bob, Harrell and Miranda and their teams. Stick around, blog readers. It should be a fun few months.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Opening post

Salutations to all new visitors...

You've stumbled upon the documentary blog of the Oliver family of Seattle as we attempt to complete the list of assignments in Miranda July and Harrell Fletcher's artistic project, Learning To Love You More. Stay tuned for constant updates as we actually begin the work on this project, as soon as I've got it mentally straight in my head and people tell me what this thing's all about.