He wrote that I should look for the tall Japanese man with the bald head. Okay.
I walked into Counter Culture Cafe in Santa Fe and greeted him, mispronouncing his name. I said it as “jen”— he corrected me, “gen”—as in Genghis Khan. Thus my hour with humble, warm, and inventive Gen Hayashida—who at first glance intimidated me—began.
Gen is a remarkable man: his parents sent him from Japan to the San Francisco area at age 16 as an exchange student. He knew no one. But he stayed with a family, entered and completed high school, went on to a San Francisco art school at the recommendation of a teacher who noticed his talent. He married, divorced, and somehow or other, ended up in Santa Fe. He’s lived here twelve years. His partner is Pamela.
Gen now works in construction at Santa Fe’s most exciting new arts establishment, Meow Wolf. If you’re not from Santa Fe, you may ask what that is: “Meow Wolf is an arts collective and production company that creates and operates immersive, interactive multimedia experiences that transport audiences of all ages into fantastical realms of storytelling.” (https://meowwolf.com) It is soon going to rival Disneyland’s best, I predict.
And occasionally, on the side, when he’s not being “lazy” (his word, not mine), Gen makes pieces of mail art. He assures me that each one made it through the US Postal System to the addressee. Here are pictures of some of them. You’ll smile, I promise.
Now for the toys:
And finally, the most FRAGILE!
When I finished my coffee, an hour had passed. Gen handed gave me a gift, a card he’d designed: if you fold it along the scored lines, like a fan, it bounces like a spring and says “Thank You.” He advised me that if I wanted to visit Meow Wolf without the crowds, the best time would be about 5 pm. And then he offered to get me guest tickets. How about them apples?
*A pencil shaving