He left us in December but his memory will always linger on in metro Detroit’s queer community.
The work of artist and longtime Between The Lines columnist Charles Alexander will go on display starting Wednesday, May. 17 at The Scarab Club, located in Midtown. Charles Alexander: Cosmic Flow Exhibition is a partnership between the Scarab Club and Affirmations.
A longtime board member of the Scarab Club, Alexander left all of his unsold art — rumored to be as much as 1,000 pieces — to the community center in Ferndale. Alexander’s art has raised tens of thousands of dollars for Affirmations and other community organizations throughout the years.
“Charles has been a lifetime supporter of Affirmations, including being awarded the Jan Stevenson Award in 2008 for his amazing work and contributions to the LGBTQ+ community and beyond,” said Affirmations Executive Director Dave Garcia. “His art, writings and beautiful sense of humor has graced us all.”
Alexander was a lifelong Detroiter. He was proud to have graduated from Cass Technical High School in 1955. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University. He’d work various jobs before joining the Detroit Public Schools, where he worked initially as a teacher but mostly as an administrator for 28 years.
After a lengthy battle with alcoholism, Alexander reconnected with his art when he entered rehab.
“More than 40 years ago Charles embraced sobriety,” said Treena Flannery Ericson, gallery director for the Scarab Club and friend of Alexander’s. “In the process of his recovery he was drawn to collage as a means of personal expression. What began as therapy brought him back to the artistic practice which had sustained him throughout his life.”
Throughout the years, Alexander held numerous shows at the Scarab Club, as well as in multiple venues across metro Detroit. In 2017, a collection of Alexander’s art was produced in book form. “The Art of Charles Alexander” was edited by John Douglas Peters and released by his Treasure Press. The book is available at the Scarab Club.
The opening reception for Charles Alexander: Cosmic Flow is Friday, May 19, from 5 – 8 p.m. The exhibition will run through June 17. Scarab Club is located at 217 Farnsworth Street, across from the Detroit Institute of Arts.