The interests and multi-faceted career of Gene Arnould ’69 reflect the foundation of a liberal arts education at its best. A resident of Marblehead, MA, one of the East Coast’s most picturesque coastal communities, Arnould owns an art gallery, organizes the annual Marblehead Summer Jazz concert series and enjoys delving into the Colonial history of his hometown.
He’s worked as an art dealer and has operated the Arnould Gallery since 1978 after pursuing a career in the ministry (he holds two advanced degrees in theology from Harvard Divinity School) and graduate study in theatre. He originally moved to Marblehead while attending Harvard.
“At North Central, I majored in English, humanities and speech because there was no theatre major,” he explains. “There are a lot of similarities in exhibiting art and doing theatre—you’re very aware of composition, light and design. But it’s certainly not a career one would expect from a small-town boy from Illinois.”
Today his gallery represents nearly 40 artists, most from the East Coast, who often use the beauty of Marblehead as a backdrop for their art.
In 1990, Arnould began operating a bed and breakfast—Brimblecomb Hill Bed and Breakfast—in his historic home built in 1721. The first floor holds three guest rooms and a breakfast area while he lives on the second and third floors. He’s hosted visitors from around the globe and his most famous guest to date was Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones.
Residing in a historic area motivated Arnould to learn more about the early settlement of Marblehead, home to America’s first naval ships manned by local fishermen. “Many of the buildings in this area date back to the late 1600s or early 1700s,” he says. “The irony is that my worst subject at North Central was American Colonial history and now I’ve read so many books that I wish I could retake that exam.”
Arnould’s other passion is jazz, and in 1985 he co-founded Marblehead Jazz Associates, which produces a concert series that attracts world-class jazz musicians to perform at a local church. Three of the concerts were broadcast as part of National Public Radio’s “Jazz Set with Dee Dee Bridgewater” series.
For his civic involvement and leadership, Arnould over the years has received numerous awards from the local Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce and the arts associations of Marblehead and nearby Salem, MA. He credits his success in life to his well-rounded education and the luck of finding the right place to settle.
“A liberal arts education—like that of North Central—allows you to pursue whatever you want to do in life,” he says. “And Marblehead is where I was meant to be and I feel very much at home here.”
North Central NOW Winter 2010