Interview with A Docent: Al Cutri

Interview with A Docent:  Al Cutri

A few questions for a docent as part of a new series! 

1)  How long have you been involved in the Timken? In what capacity?

I remember that we joined the year the Timken family took a trip to Tuscany, Italy. The British Institute had an academic branch for graduate studies and we took a half-day course in the morning about gardens and some very significant art, and then we would get on a bus and go explore the gardens. Gay Girratano was there and so was Jane Kirkaby. It was a wonderful trip and my first time doing something with an intimate group from the Timken. We also went on another trip to Italy, Central, and Northern Italy with a tour guide and his wife. I think his name was John and he had grown up in Rome with an Episcopalian minister father who had taught him so much about Italian art. He was so knowledgeable and it was a wonderful experience. 

2)  How has the Timken changed since you were first involved?

I had probably been on the board for about 4 or 5 years prior to the Kimono as Art: The Landscapes of Itchiku Kubota. Kimono as Art was a very large exhibition in scale and it was an amazing display of kimonos crafted by the acclaimed textile artist Itchiku Kubota. Maybe 15 years ago, I wouldn't have thought to put this exhibition with the Timken’s collection but it was truly one of my favorite Timken moments. It opened doors for expanding the Timken footprint and engaging a broader audience in the community. I also served on the collections committee and helped hunt down paintings and objects and bring back recommendations to the board. And then we would garner enough support for the purchase. We have some very intelligent art history people on our Timken board. 

3)  What's your favorite Timken painting/object?

Guercino’s The Return of the Prodigal Son. It has such a strong presence to me. I think it has something to do with right when I saw it, I had just lost my father and shortly after my mother passed as well. It touched me because of what was going on in my life. I always stop in front of it and say hello when I’m here. 

4)  What made you decide to become a Timken docent?

I had always loved the collection but academically had never spent time studying it. Before I retired I just didn’t have enough time to go look at it in-depth. I love art history and art. My wife is an artist, and rather than spending all my time in the garden, I thought I might study art. I love that the Timken is branching out with the loans/ exhibitions they chose. 

5)  Do you have a favorite "Timken moment" or "story?"

The Kimono as Art: The Landscapes of Itchiku Kubota is the one that pops in my mind. It ran November 2008- January 2009. It was the first time I thought it was possible to do a show like that and nothing like it had been done before not to this scale. We hosted the artist and entourage at our home for dinner with some of the board members and the board director and his wife. It was a wonderful evening. Now we have the programs like The Modernist installation in the summer and I think the Kimono exhibit set the scale for bringing in new and finding a way for it to fit and have a place among our collection.