Serving the fine art needs of the upper Midwest

Alla prima (pronounced “AH-lah PREE-mah”) is an art term for a painting technique. It happens to be Italian and we think it has a nice ring to it. Plus, it roughly translates to “at first attempt,” which, with its sense of “firstness,” conveys excellence and getting the job done–which are at the core of what Alla Prima Art Services delivers when we help clients with art appraisal and advising needs.  



Kara Dirkson, Appraiser and Founder – Alla Prima Art Services was created by Kara Dirkson, a South Dakota native with a wide range of institutional and market-related experience in fine art including private appraisal and consulting practice to serving as Director of an accredited visual art institution.


Dirkson has been entrusted by numerous cultural and academic organizations, trust departments, private and corporate collectors, insurance companies, attorneys on behalf of clients, and everyday people to guide them through art policy and valuation needs. She is an accredited appraiser with specialized experience in IRS-qualifying appraisals which are held to some of the highest standards in the business as well as appraisals for insurance coverage and property loss.


Want to learn more about the founder’s credentials or how someone gets into appraising art?  Read the founder’s story.


Jamie Holmberg, Project Assistant – A South Dakotan and an art lover through and through, Jamie was raised in Mitchell, South Dakota where she spent many childhood days at the Dakota Discovery Museum where her mother worked. There she was surrounded by the artwork of South Dakota greats such as Charles Hargens, Harvey Dunn and Oscar Howe. This ingrained a lifelong love for museum environments and art history within her.

            Jamie earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of South Dakota in 2012 with an emphasis in darkroom photography. While earning her degree, she worked with the photographic archives collection at the University of South Dakota Libraries and, during summers, at the Dakota Discovery museum. She topped off her University days by diving into the world of private art galleries and commercial framing for a number of years.

            She loves to see the world through travel and the lens of her camera. Among her most memorable overseas adventures was an encounter with her favorite painting at the Louvre, The Raft of the Medusa by Theodore Gericault. This iconic work of Romanticism took her breath away.

            When she isn’t busy as Alla Prima’s Project Assistant, serving clients at an area Scandinavian interiors store, or pursuing photography and travel, she finds her Zen with yoga and her cat, Basil.


In the world of appraising, fine art falls under the category of “personal property.” Unlike appraising real property or real estate, there are no licensing requirements for personal property appraising. Although you will hear people refer to “certified” or “licensed” art appraisers, there is no such thing. Some appraisers opt to join one of various organizations and get accredited through those particular entities, but all credentialing is optional. Alla Prima received training through the American Society of Appraisers and the Appraisal Institute and is accredited through the Association of Online Appraisers and therefore our founder carries the designation “AM, AOA”.

The bottom line is that when looking for an art appraiser, beyond academic degrees, be sure he/she adheres to high standards in specialized training and testing, recommended appraisal codes of ethics, continued education, has demonstrated valuation experience, and he/she conforms to the most up-to-date version of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).

 (You can learn more about recommended qualifications for personal property appraisers through The Appraisal Foundation.)

Original art creates a direct connection between the creator and the partaker that transcends space, time and what is visible.