What piece of art changed your life? How did it affect you?
The piece of art that changed my life entered my home in 1970, after I had attended a tag sale while refurbishing an old Baltimore townhouse. It was a small, multicolored, Chinese cloisonné toothpick holder purchased for $5. That started a lifetime of collecting, and it was hard to stuff the genie back in the bottle.
About six years later, a friend called, urging me to take the next train to NY to see some unusually fine cloisonné objects he had discovered in a store on Madison Avenue. After finding four remarkable items there, each costing more than 10 times what I had previously spent, I bought the four on the spot. To pay for them, I auctioned what remained of my collection--minus, of course, the toothpick holder. That day was to totally transform my collecting habits. Over the next 35 years, I began to collect slowly, carefully, little-by-little--a process that would take me deeper into the arts of Japan and then into the arts of all of Asia. I have collected cloisonné, not as a curiosity or to build a historic overview, but simply because the medium offered some of the most beautiful objects I had ever seen. And during the early years of acquiring them, they were also very affordable. Being able to live with beauty is not a remote goal but one largely accessible to many--with time, focus and work.