Thursday, February 11, 2010

Appraiser Brings Real-World Experiences to Class

By David Staudacher, Rio Salado College

“Art always reflects the period of the artist and society,” said Allison Gee, an adjunct faculty member at Rio Salado College. “Art shows quite a bit of who we are and where we have been. It shows laws, values, and culture.”

Gee’s knowledge of art reaches beyond the classroom. When she is not teaching, she is running her business, Appraisals By Allison. The business is a full-service nationwide fine art appraisal firm based in the Valley, and specializes in the appraisal of American and European paintings, sculptures and works on paper. As a professional appraiser, Gee has had the privilege to evaluate an original painting by Picasso, a sculpture by Robert Indiana, and prints by Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali and Marc Chagall. It is this type of unique experiences she brings to students in her art history and humanities classes at Tempe-based Rio Salado.

“As a professional appraiser, I have to keep up with the art world,” said Gee. “Adding my work to the classroom, allows me to bring real-world experiences to my classes. This is something I like to share with all of my students, especially Valley students who can go to local gallery openings.”

Keeping herself and students up to date with art movements has kept the teacher busy. Gee is active in the Phoenix-Metro Chapter of the American Society of Appraisers (ASA), and was elected to serve as an officer of the local chapter, which included a stint as the group’s president. She is involved in the local arts community and is a member of the Phoenix Art Museum, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, West Valley Art Museum, and a member of the Steering Committee of the Inaugural Quest for Art of the West Valley Arts Council.

Outside of Arizona, Gee has studied art and conducted research at many of the world’s finest museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Casa Buonarroti in Florence, Italy.

She also works throughout Arizona and in neighboring states, but said that it is teaching classes online that has taken her to more places around the world.

“I’ve worked in Texas, California and New Mexico, and my students are all over the world,” said Gee. “I’ve had students contact me from Paris, Milan, and often teach military students stationed in the Middle East. It’s one of the things that make teaching online interesting. Students in different parts of the state, country or world have access to different works of art.”

According to Gee, who holds a lifetime teaching certificate in Art History from the Arizona Community College system, she often suggests places for students to see original works based on where they are located in the world. She also has had experience with students writing about artists she has appraised.

“There have been times when a student has written a paper about an artist, and during the same week or even the same day I was holding an original piece by that particular artist,” said Gee. “It’s moments like this that I feel like I am bringing more to classes.”

To learn more about Rio Salado College, please visit
More information about Allison Gee can be found at