Born in Brooklyn and raised in New Rochelle, NY, I hold an M.A. in Asian art history and a Ph.D. in Japanese art history from the University of Kansas.
My graduate studies, first at Columbia University, NY, for one semester, then subsequently at the University of Kansas, began with training in Chinese art, which I had studied initially as an undergraduate. But after several years of study at Kansas, I became inspired by the Japanese art professors there and switched my main focus to Japan. At Kansas, I completed numerous graduate-level courses in Chinese and Japanese art, and broader courses on Asian art, including connoisseurship classes held every semester at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Professors under whom I studied are among the most esteemed scholars of their disciplines: Chu-tsing Li (1920-2014; one of the first experts in the West to teach pre-modern Chinese painting and a pioneer in the appreciation and study of modern and contemporary Chinese painting); Laurence Sickman (1907-1988; Chinese art expert and former director at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City); Stephen Addiss (born 1935; expert in Japanese painting, Chinese influences on Japanese painting, and imported Chinese Zen art of the Obaku Sect); and Christine Guth (currently acting head of the History of Design Programme and Senior Tutor for Asian at the at the graduate program of the Royal College of Art/Victoria & Albert Museum, London; expert in Japanese Buddhist and Shinto art, pre-modern Japanese painting, and Japanese design).
I have been active as an independent Asian art appraiser since 1993, working throughout the U.S.A. and Canada for private collectors, attorneys, estate executors, insurance companies, auction houses, corporate collections, foundations, and museums. Please note that although I am based in Lawrence, KS, where I have access to the world-class academic research library of the University of Kansas and the extensive reference library and famed Asian art collection of the nearby Nelson-Atkins Museum where I formerly worked, I travel extensively to see collections. Because of my family ties to New York and my regular visits there to Asian art and appraiser organization events, I travel there often for extended stays, and so clients in the NY area generally do not incur any travel expenses.
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I started my appraisal business after years of professional experience as an expert in Asian art, working in art museums and universities, and following prolonged periods of research and travel in Japan. In 2002, I joined the Appraisers Association of America (AAA) as an Accredited Member with specialization areas covering a wide variety of Asian arts including East Asia (China, Japan, and Korea), South East Asia, India, and Himalaya fine arts and crafts. Although I possess broad knowledge of diverse types of Asian arts and crafts, both pre-modern and of the modern and contemporary eras, I understand that sometimes highly specialized expertise is required for adequate assessment. So, as needed, I engage a small, select group of knowledgeable expert consultant appraisers, dealers, and scholars of Indian, Himalayan, South East Asian, Chinese, and Korean fine and decorative arts, in both the USA and Asia, to work with me on individual appraising and consulting assignments. In 2009, I became a CERTIFIED MEMBER of the Appraisers Association of America in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean arts.
My approach to appraising and all my written reports meet the ethical mandates of the Appraisers Association of America (AAA) and conform in substance to guidelines established by the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) standards. I first successfully completed a 15-hour course and examination on this Congressionally-recognized set of appraisal standards in October 2008 and to make sure I fully understand each two-year cycle of updates and revisions to these regulations, I take 7-hour USPAP update courses every two years soon after the new USPAP editions are released. I have completed these updates in September 2011, January 2013, and March 2014. I strive to keep current with changes to USPAP and other issues concerning the appraising profession, and current IRS tax laws, by subscribing to newsletters for my profession and regularly attending Annual Meetings of the Appraisers Association of America and various Continuing Education Programs, including those on Art Law at the New York University Law School. My approach to appraising and all my written reports meet the ethical and legal mandates of the Appraisers Association of America (AAA) and conform in substance to guidelines established by USPAP.
Complementing my appraising business, I lecture about Japanese culture, art, and Chinese influences on Japanese culture, at museums, universities, professional organizations, scholarly symposia, and businesses throughout the United States and internationally. I also occasionally work with private individuals who need advice on planning trips to Japan and lead cultural tours for small groups of adults and university students in two areas of my interest and expertise:
- Art, architecture, and design, past and present
- Sustainability in Japan, with emphasis on how the society simultaneously draws on its past cultural achievements to prepare for the future
As a scholar, I have been the recipient of various fellowships including those from the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, the Asian Cultural Council (a Rockefeller Brothers Fund), the Fulbright Program, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. My scholarly research focuses mainly on Japanese art, but I began my graduate school studies in Asian art with an emphasis on Chinese art history and studied Chinese language prior to learning Japanese. My ongoing scholarly research focuses on Japanese arts, aesthetics, and design from the 17th century to the present, and the connoisseurship and collecting of Chinese and Korean art in Japan. My publications include essays in museum catalogues, encyclopedias, multi-authored scholarly books, scholarly journals, and three books: Tea of the Sages, the Art of Sencha (1998), Faith and Power in Japanese Buddhist Art: 1600-2005 (2007), and Japanese Design: Art, Aesthetics, & Culture (Tuttle Publishing, 2014). I have several current research projects. One is: Langdon Warner, Impassioned Advocate of Japanese Art and Culture, working title for a book, a critical biography of Langdon Warner (1881-1955), one of the most influential Asian art historians of the twentieth century and one of World War II’s “Monuments Men” who significantly helped shape and sustain the American public’s understanding of East Asia and especially of Japan, from the 1920s through the early post World War II period. The other explores the iconoclastic art of contemporary Japanese artists inspired by Buddhism, tentatively titled: Buddhist Inspired Art in Contemporary Japan: Intersections of Tradition, Imagination, and Social Activism.
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