August 18th, 2011

This month I have a story for you about something one can do if one is independently wealthy. 25 years ago a developer named Steve Oliver, who had previously declared himself to be one of the people who “doesn’t get” art, had a revelation. Suddenly he liked art a lot. So much, in fact, that he decided to convert the Napa Valley sheep farm he had bought for his daughter into a sculpture ranch, commissioning some of the biggest names in contemporary art to make work that is both specific to the landscape and unmovable and, so, out of the normal system of valuation. Bruce Nauman wound a concrete staircase up and over the hills. Richard Serra used a set of giant, copper blocks to turn a small field into sacred space.

The thing, though, about Steve Oliver and his magnificent sculpture garden, is that he doesn’t need you or your money. He is only somewhat willing, then, to allow visitors to share what has been built, essentially, for him. There are only two times a year, in fact, when he gives tours, one in the spring and one in the fall. That means that one is fast approaching, and if this is interesting to you, it’s time to take action. It is not possible to just show up. It’s not even as easy as going online and booking a spot. Mr. Steve Oliver accepts groups that have given a donation to a charity that he finds acceptable. Individuals can buy into the charitable offering of another group. Details can be found on their website. I’m pretty sure you don’t have to provide a blood sample. It’s truly complicated, I know, but, and I will not lie to you because I have nothing to gain, the magic of the place is unparalleled. If you don’t go now, keep it in mind for that future date when you really deserve something special. It’s called Oliver Ranch.

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