An Introduction to African American Art with Genice Lee


As the owner of Harvest Estate and Appraisal Services, LLC, Genice Lee has years of experience working as a personal property appraiser and estate consultant in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. Over the course of her career, she has completed appraisals for properties that have been gifted or loaned to important African American cultural institutions such as The Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia, and The Doleman Black Heritage Museum. Here, Lee shares her favorite African American artists, plus her tips for starting an African American art collection and keeping yourself informed on the current state of the African American Art market.

What inspired you to become an appraiser and what specifically drew you to African American Art?

My love of history and antiques are at the foundation of my becoming an appraiser. My hobby of antiquing led me to launch an estate sales company. After researching values, I became interested in understanding more about personal property markets. I later started the accreditation process through the American Society of Appraisers and transitioned in appraising.

Regarding African American Art, I have always had an interest in African American history and its artifacts. Its history, which is my history, is rich with untold stories and the art helps to articulate the history. Additionally, I was presented with an opportunity to apprentice with an appraiser who specializes in African American Art. This afforded me the opportunity to delve deeper into African American history through its art and its artists. One artist in particular, Jacob Lawrence and his “Migration Series” started my love for African American Art.

lawrence Image Left: Jacob Lawrence, Migration Series, Panel No.1, 1940-1941 (Photo:Museum of Modern Art) Image Right: Jacob Lawrence, Migration Series, Panel No. 58, 1940-1941, (Photo: Museum of Modern Art)


Who are some of your favorite African American artists?

Some of my favorite African American artists include: Jacob Lawrence, Alma Thomas, Lois Mailou Jones, Romare Bearden, and Hale Woodruff. But, I would be remiss if I did not mention Joseph Holston, a Maryland native. His artwork initially gained regional recognition, which eventually spread to the Mid-Atlantic region. Today, he is recognized internationally. A few institutions where his works may be found are: The Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Phillips Collection, The Yale University Art Gallery, and The Baltimore Museum of Art. A special quality reflected in his artwork is that they are more than mere African American images, the images help to share the experiences that people can relate to as they reflect on their own lives and life encounters.


What are some of the best venues–galleries, museums, cultural institutions–to see African American Art?

Here is a partial listing of some of the best places to see African American Art:

Hampton University; Hampton, VA
The Smithsonian American Art Museum; Washington, D.C.
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; Richmond, VA
The N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art; Detroit, MI
High Museum of Art; Atlanta, GA
The David C. Driskell Center; College Park, MD
Stella Jones Gallery; New Orleans, LA
June Kelly Gallery; New York, NY
Michael Rosenthal Gallery; Los Gatos, CA
Thelma Harris Art Gallery; Oakland, CA


image1 Image Left: Alma Thomas, Snoopy Sees Sunrise on Earth, 1971 Photo: Michael Rosenfeld Gallery; Image Right: Joseph Holston, Captive Tones, 2012


What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to keep themselves informed on the current state of the African American art market?

That’s a challenge, but collectors can start with the institutions and galleries mentioned earlier. Each resource has a website, points of contact, and social media account such as Facebook or Twitter. The aggregation of information regarding the state of the African American art market is an ongoing task. In addition, collectors need to work with art advisors and appraisers who are diligent and knowledgeable sources of information.

What advice would you give someone who would like to start collecting African American art?

The collector should first think about why they want to start collecting African American art. The reasons might span the gambit from admiring the work of a particular artist or looking at African American art as an investment. Whatever the reason, do some homework regarding African American art, such as attending seminars, researching the artist(s), and working with a professional to build a collection that will be beautiful and valuable.

Genice Lee, owner of Harvest Estate and Appraisal Services, LLC, is an Accredited Member of the American Society of Appraisers in the Washington DC area, where she works as an appraiser and estate consultant. She has completed appraisals for estate tax calculation, estate and financial planning, insurance coverage, loss claims, division of property and non-cash charitable contributions.

She speaks with professional and community groups on personal property topics such as inventorying, adequate insurance coverage, and downsizing. She has been a featured guest on “Newsbreak” with Renee Nash and Spotlight on Business with Taylor Thomas of WHUR 96.3 in Washington DC to discuss the appraisal industry. She was also featured in the Prince George’s county edition of the “Gazette Newspaper” discussing preserving family legacy through personal property.

Ms. Lee has a BA in Japan Regional Studies from the University of Washington and an MA in International Communications from The American University. In addition, she has a certificate of Appraisal Studies in Fine and Decorative Arts from The George Washington University and a certificate in the History of Western Art from the Smithsonian Resident Associate Program. She is USPAP (Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice) certified. She is also a MBE (Minority Business Enterprise) certified business in the state of Maryland.

As an active member of the American Society of Appraisers, she serves on the public relations sub committee and is past president of the Washington DC Chapter.

Her company slogan, “4 the changing seasons in your life”, reflects her commitment to serving clients with USPAP complaint appraisals and Asset Management services.

To learn more about Genice Lee and her independent personal property appraisal services, visit her website Harvest Estate and Appraisals, LLC