My mom was an amateur painter, and when I was in the third grade, I would actually go with her to her little ladies' painting group. So it would be me and these ladies, and the art teacher was also my art teacher in elementary school, Bernie Epstein. So I was actually always the guy who did the blackboard Thanksgiving scene in chalk -- in winter, the snow scene. I was always doing that.

My family was from New England and owned a little family textile mill, and I was the oldest son, so there was a certain sense of expectation that I would follow in family footsteps and do that. But Mom and Dad said to me, You love art, and you're good at it, so don't feel any obligation to go into this. They freed me of that, which was quite a gift.

To think that part of my job is to go into the galleries and sit and look at Rembrandt and Vermeer and Hals and Rubens and Van Dyck, and think about these paintings and just enjoy them is -- it's a wonderful opportunity, to sit and enjoy some of the greatest masterpieces ever created and to let them soak in and feel the way they speak to you. They have different voices, and that really depends on you and your world, and what you're thinking about. As you change as a person, as you grow and mature, see things, have experiences, you often see them in new ways. Even though I have been here now, oh, almost 30 years, you go back and you see these paintings, and they always have a slightly different feel. They are constantly evolving before your eyes.

-- Interview by Patricia Murret