Tag: Round Two. In this series museum staff, artists, and guests answer a grip of questions about life, love, liberty and all that magic. The featured person then tags another with five more questions. It’s like transmitting a virus, but happy and fun. Next up is, me, Ken Ikemoto, School Programs Associate, tagged by Nicole Harvey.
Where do you most want to be right now?
At this moment there are many places that I would love to be. But one place that comes to mind would be soaking in a steamy outdoor bath somewhere in northern Japan. My mind would be soft clouds slow gliding across tall azure skies and the sound of trickling water, distant songbirds, and the wind in the leaves. Yes, that is where I want to be right now. Oh, and about half an hour later I will want to be eating a sumptuous feast of delectable foods.
Do you have a favorite work of art in the museum?
Oh gee, I have many favorite works of art in the museum! One that stands out is the Gandharan sculpture of the boddhisattva Maitreya from Pakistan. It is such a handsome piece that carries a nobility and princely grace. And there is still a sincere humility despite all the blingin’ jewelry he is wearing. The promise of the Buddha of the future always makes me feel at ease. It is a reminder that our destinies will unfold effortlessly as they should when the time is right. Other favorites are paintings by the Korean artist Yoong Bae. The museum has several of his works in its collection. His ink paintings have such a depth of layered textures from the paper to the colored washes to the brushstrokes. Within his simple compositions lie a direct awareness of ineffably deep invisible worlds. Good stuff.
What are the best and worst aspects involved in working for a museum?
The biggest challenge in working in a museum is constantly having to work with limited resources. We are always finding ways to maximize every minute. There is always so much to be done, so much potential, but never enough time or resources. In a way this aspect is a great pleasure too. Its satisfying to see how much we really do accomplish with the modest resources we have. But I wish we had more resources so that we could do bigger things!
The absolute best thing about working in a museum is being a part of all the great programming. Just when things start to get hairy and I find myself staring wistfully at my desktop wallpaper (it’s usually food or scenes of nature) a visiting artist arrives, a 7th grader asks to interview me, we make samples for art activities, there is a big performance, or something else wonderful happens that reminds me how lucky I am to work in this amazing field.
If you could tell a first-time visitor to see one thing in SF, what would it be?
Definitely either Dolores Park or Golden Gate Park on a sunny Sunday afternoon. More than iconic buildings, sites, restaurants, venues, or neighborhoods, it is the people of this crazy city that define it. There is no better time to see people at their truest than when they are at leisure. In an afternoon spent people-watching and eavesdropping in the park you’ll see drama, comedy, romance, tragedy, joy, and pain. You’ll meet people of all backgrounds, interests, and cultures, from all over the country and world. You’ll find that if you’re open to it you can be part of the big complicated happy mess of people (and pets) too. Sometimes you don’t have a choice. A day in the park is never just voyeuristic, your participation is tacit. It is in participating that you truly experience the odd and happy of San Francisco.
Do you feel you can put an end to the banh mi wars and tell us which Vietnamwich is the best in Little Saigon? (Or perhaps this a trick question and there is always struggle when it comes to food supremacy.)
There are great Vietnamese sandwiches and sandwich shops in Little Saigon. Each has its strengths. Sing Sing has the best pate and easiest menu. They have just one type of sandwich. And the Vietnamese pop music karaoke videos on the monitor there are curiously mesmerizing. Saigon Sandwich has the best roasted chicken sandwich and there are always a fun mix of different people in line (though its a quick moving line). And the woman at that nameless shop near the 19 bus-stop on Larkin at Golden Gate is by far the friendliest and makes a solid Vietnamwich.
However, all these sandwiches (and every other banh mi that I’ve ever had) share a crucial weakness: hard cardboard baguettes that hurt your mouth. Perhaps it is a fundamental flaw in the very DNA of banh mi. A French baguette is just not a very forgiving sandwich bread. Its rare that you find a crispy sandwich roll that still remains moist and soft on the inside.
Le Petitt’s Kitchen on Golden Gate at Hyde across the street from Morty’s Delicatessen (another great Tenderloin sandwich shop) does this well with some of the best fresh-baked sourdough sandwich rolls around. If only they would lend their considerable baking skills to their neighbors there could be one banh mi to reign supreme.
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