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Feb 2004 / a day's work :: email this story to a friend

Eleven Questions with...Gen Obata
By Amanda E. Doyle

1) So, everyone wants to know — how are you related to those Obatas?
It used to be that everyone would ask if I were related to Gyo Obata, the architect. Yes, he's my father. Now I'm asked if I'm related to Kiku Obata, who also has a design firm, and Nori Obata, who creates glass bead jewelry and porcelain ceramics, about as often as I'm asked about Gyo. And, yes, they are my sisters. I also get a lot of mail for General Obata, but I haven't met him (or her) yet.

2) You're living the sweet life of a stay-at-home dad, artist and musician. How'd you talk your wife into that deal?
I think this is a new trend these days. There must be four or five stay-at-home dads on my street. My wife, Rebecca, is the more outgoing type who enjoys working at an office. She would go stir crazy working at home. She would like me to keep the house a little cleaner.

3) We know about the bluegrass (with both Raven Moon and Seldom Home) — is there a musical guilty pleasure you can share with us? Lots of Clay Aiken in the CD changer or something?
Right now I have Alejandro Escovedo on the player. Sorry,no Clay Aiken. So, why doesn't American Idol come to St. Louis? My wife and kids watch it every week. You're going to have to work on this.

4) Your images of Lilly the Cat are famous around town; what's next for the adventurous feline?
She just took a trip to New Orleans and last year my friend Shellee Graham and I found a time machine and were able to transport Lilly back in time to visit the Coral Courts Motel. She'd still be there if we hadn't set the time machine on auto return.

5) When did Lilly decide to start keeping a blog, and do you strictly take dictation, or do you ever add your own editorial comments?
On November 20th, 2003, I took some photos of Lilly and Rodney sleeping in the study and Lilly suggested I start a blog for her and put in the photos. I know you can't believe this, but it's strictly dictation. And she is quick to point out all the typos I make. The only editorial work I do is adding a few more photos of the "ferocious" Rodney yawning because they crack me up.

6) What's your favorite artistic medium in which to work?
Right now I'm excited about making quilts. I love to take photographs and over the past eight years I've been using them in artist's books, but now I'm experimenting with using them on fabric in quilts.

7) Where can we find your notecards?
At The City Museum, The History Museum, Humane Society, Laumeier Sculpture Park, Left Bank Books, Meli-Melo in the Delmar Loop, Provisions Gourmet Market, St. Louis Artists Guild, St. Louis Carousel, or you can check out my web site at www.genobata.com. Oh, yeah, you can also find them at The Commonspace!

8) What's been your most memorable musical moment?
I would say all the times I've performed on the stage at the Sheldon Concert Hall. That's an amazing feeling. I also had an extraordinary time performing with Raven Moon at the Whitaker Music Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden. That was our largest crowd and we even had people dancing in the mosh pit in front of the stage.

9) Who'd be in your ideal Music Supergroup?
Along with my two bands, I'd add some other great St. Louis musicians:
Bob Breidenbach on dobro
Thayne Bradford on button accordion
Janice Reiman on cello
Mark Rennard on fiddle
Lydia Ruffin and Gloria Bauermeister on vocals
Gary Hunt on almost any instrument

10) You live in a house with three women, including two teenage daughters. Is it just like "Gilmore Girls" would have us believe?
I've never seen Gilmore Girls. It's more like Eight Rules for Dating My Daughter. But if the Gilmore Girls have a lot of waiting for outfits to be selected and hair to be styled just right, then I guess they're right. My cat, Rodney, and I like to chill out and watch old movies.

11) What's your favorite banjo joke?
Why is a banjo like a hand grenade?
Because by the time you hear either one it's too late.

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