The Oliver’s describe their adventures at the ranch, and with the artists, not so much as “collecting art,” but as “collecting experiences.”
Located in the heart of Sonoma County, the Oliver Ranch is home to 18 remarkable site-specific sculptures, the most recent of which is the tower designed by Ann Hamilton which is host to commissioned dance, poetry, theatre, and music performances. The picturesque 100-acre property was originally bought by Steve and Nancy Oliver in 1981 to serve as a site to graze a few extra sheep, and became, as Steve says, “my daughter’s 4-H project gone bad.” The ranch’s evolution from exiled sheep quarters to world-renowned sculpture ranch was gradual and organic, a natural convergence of the Olivers’ longstanding passion for art and deep connection to the land.
The Oliver’s describe their adventures at the ranch, and with the artists, not so much as “collecting art,” but as “collecting experiences.” The Oliver’s only direction to the artists has been that they “respond to the land.” Both Steve and Nancy share decision-making in the choice of artists, followed by Steve’s role as “studio assistant” in construction and, later, as “tour guide” leading a two and a half mile walk and recounting the story of each work. These tours, along with original performance works in the Hamilton tower, help raise funds for other nonprofits.
In 2009, the Olivers partnered with Community Foundation Sonoma County to create the Oliver Ranch Foundation as a supporting organization of the Community Foundation. This partnership assures that the Olivers’ vision for the Ranch continues into perpetuity and allows the Olivers to leave the ranch in local hands. As of 2009, the Olivers contributed to the Oliver Ranch Foundation an undivided interest in the land and the sculptures affixed to the land, with plans for the remaining interests in the property to go to the Foundation over the Olivers’ lifetimes.