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.