The following was contributed by Renée D., a member of ARCA's Postgraduate Program in International Art Crime studies Class of 2010. The ARCA staff has enlisted her to provide updates on the program's progress as well as to, hopefully, convey some of the intimate nuances and intricacies of life in Amelia to those of us outside its medieval walls. The program runs June 1 through August 13.
The bells start ringing signaling that its noon and we are all in summer school. I briefly gaze out the side window from my seat and all you can see is the clay rooftops, the old buildings, and blue sky. Suddenly reality hits, we are not just in summer school, we are in Italy.
ARCA’s postgraduate program in International Art Crime Studies, class of 2010, is double the size of last year’s premiere group and rumor has it that interest for next summer’s program is already in record numbers. The program attracts people from all walks of life and all different backgrounds. This summer we are curators, conservators, lawyers, law students, appraisers, art historians, private investigators, gallerists, mapmakers, and archeologists. We are inquisitive. We are intelligent. We are the Art World.
As a group, we have already started to acclimate ourselves to this small beautiful Italian town called Amelia. Lunch ultimately sends us to Bar Leonardi, a local hot spot bar at the cross section of all the main roads in town. The staff of Leonardi tolerates our broken Italian as we sip our cappuccinos and snack on our sandwiches. The local older men sit under the overhang in the shade discussing various topics, but mostly they are studying the ARCA students with curiosity as if we ourselves are an exhibit at a museum.
For others, Punto Di Vino has become a home away from home. Luciano, the wine bar’s owner, and his family are so accommodating to our program as they offer us a glass of wine, a warm meal of risotto, and a piece of chocolate as we catch up with our families back home through Luciano’s free wireless connection.
The elusive Noah Charney, founder and president of ARCA, is finally extremely accessible to us this first week as he leads our lectures, which address topics ranging from forgeries to vandalism. He shares his personal love for Il Bronzino and the Ghent Altarpiece with us, and for the importance of churches needing better security systems. Noah sports a wallet chain and hair that until recently sported a ponytail. He also has been spotted smoking a Sherlock Holmes-esque pipe during lunch. Noah captures our attention with his vast knowledge and his way of engaging us by asking us questions that range from how we would define art to how we would handle security when a potential vandal enters our hypothetical museum.
This first week has allowed us to revisit issues that many of us have thought about extensively before but now perhaps can rethink in a different light. It is a great preview for the rest of the program. We are still in summer school, but while our shared passion to learn about this understudied yet relevant field keeps us going to class, we know that when class breaks for lunch, the Italian sun will be waiting for us.