An overflowing crowd of hundreds filled the Pittmann-Puckett Gallery at the Affirmations LGBTQ center in Ferndale on Sunday. The occasion: a celebration of the life and work of artist and longtime Between The Lines columnist Charles Alexander. Titled “A Life Well Lived,” the show was also held to bring awareness to that fact that Alexander suffered a stroke on Memorial Day, which left him with some residual visual and mobility issues. All proceeds from the event went into the Charles Alexander Health Trust to assist with his recovery and ongoing health issues. Curated by Treena Flannery Ericson of the Scarab Club, of which Alexander has been a longtime board member, she said that it was a pleasure to put on the show.
“For decades Charles has been a generous artist, mentor and friend, sharing his time, talent and work in support of the organizations and individuals he values,” Ericson said. “Last night it did my heart good to see the gallery packed with people in such an outpouring of love and respect for all that he means to this community.”
Since his stroke, Alexander has relocated from the Wayne State University area, where he was a fixture for decades, to Henry Ford Village in Dearborn where he continues to recover. However, at the show Alexander appeared to be in good health and spirits sitting at the end of a sort of receiving line to speak to his many friends and fans who visited his side throughout the evening.
Affirmations Executive Director Dave Garcia took to the microphone to thank Charles for his lifetime worth of contributions to metro Detroit’s LGBT community.
“Charles, I want to personally thank you for everything you have done for Affirmations and the greater LGBT community,” he said. “I especially want to thank you for taking me under your wing and always being willing to talk with me and for your advice and counsel throughout the years. You have been a friend and a role model and everyone in this room today is a better person for having known you.”
Garcia then introduced BTL Co-Publisher and Affirmations founding executive director Jan Stevenson, who was largely responsible for the show.
“The reason we started the center 30 years ago, and the reason it exists today, is because we need each other,” Stevenson said. “And now Charles needs us.”
In his speech, the 83-year-old Alexander, who came out in the 1950s, spoke of how far the LGBTQ community had come in his lifetime.
“If you had told me then that one day we would have a center, we would have marriage, we would have a church, I’d have said you were crazy,” Alexander said.
Over half of the 80 pieces in the gallery that night were sold. The show will remain up for the next two weeks.
To see the show visit Affirmations located at 290 W. Nine Mile Road in
Ferndale. Find out more about the Pitmann-Puckett gallery visit https://goaffirmations.org.