Five Questions for Alfred Allan Lewis
The collector recently donated a treasured collection to Frost Art FIU
Alfred Allan Lewis recently gifted a collection of malachite objects to Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU on behalf of himself and his late husband, Ralph Lutrin. The couple spent years acquiring the pieces – a green, copper ore – whilst traveling around the globe. They learned of this shared interest – in addition to their shared passions for theater, music, dance and the visual arts – when the couple met in 1969 on the Queen Elizabeth II. It was 43 years later, in 2012, when they married.
In addition to having an eye for art, both are accomplished in their respective fields. Lutrin was a former Navy lieutenant with a graduate degree in social work who in addition to running his family’s confectionary business, also managed noted art gallerist Wally Findlay’s first New York gallery. Lewis is an author, playwright and screen writer who won a slew of awards including a Peabody nomination for his NBC “Tribute to Eugene O’Neill.” His television writing credits include “Edge of Night,” “Dark Shadows,” “The Doctors,” and CBS Playhouse.
In 1990, the duo moved to Miami Beach, where Lutrin became the President of the Audrey Love Charitable Foundation and both became actively involved in the Miami arts community. Today, Lewis also supports the national organization SAGE, which is dedicated to helping gay people in need. There are so many gay people, he says, who have families who are either deceased or who have stopped speaking to them. “I want my money to go to help the older gay community,” he says.
SocialMiami contributor Erica Corsano sat down with Lewis and asked him these five questions.
How did your interest in Malachite begin?
Ralph saw malachite while traveling in St Petersburg, Russia…in the Great Palace, there is a room of malachite and he loved it. So, we began to buy it when we saw it, when we traveled… London or Paris or wherever… It wasn’t a planned thing; it just happened that way. It has a look we both loved.
When Ralph passed away, I was intent on having our beautiful collection displayed. Not many people know about malachite and what it is made of.
I also have a Diego Rivera and a couple of other things that will all go to the Frost Museum. I told Jordana [Pomeroy] about the malachite and she came up with a room for it and I said “yes.” I was relieved.
You’ve had such an incredible writing career, what was the most memorable part of your career?
The most memorable part of my career was my private life! (Laughs) I write a lot of plays and books and television and that was good. I had a nice career. I was not ever a great writer—I was a writer that always had publishers that wanted to give me assignments. I made a lot of money and had a good time.
When I reached the point when there were things I wanted to write, there was no longer an interest and the publishing business was falling apart. I wasn’t about to write something for the joy of it that I might not see to finish…I never thought of it as something of great importance, I had a good time with it and that’s it.
I don’t think of writing as the be-all and end-all. I know a lot of writers— famous ones too—and they all have this need to tell you how important the work they are doing is and that’s just boring.
You and your late husband have had quite a beautiful love story. How do you honor his memory in ways large and small?
I remember him every day. There are reminiscences and memories…souvenirs of his life that are everywhere. What we did for each other, is that we made our lives possible. We had some disputes but not many considering how long we were together—and not so important that anyone was packing suitcases! We had a very lovely life. We know so many people, toured many places, lived long periods in London—my favorite of all cities.
Is there a piece of advice you would give young gay people today?
To be honest, simply never deny who you are. I think they [young people] must educate their families not to be brokenhearted by a thing that they can’t change and that gives them happiness.
When I was in the Korean War, when I was given my physical, I simply told them that I was a homosexual. If they wanted me to go into the army ok but they should know the circumstances. They didn’t want that. And I didn’t mind that at all. When we had the draft, my draft card said “status undetermined” which meant I wasn’t going to the war. I knew my status was determined but they couldn’t take it. My other gay friends thought I was crazy for telling them. The most important thing is to always be honest.
A self-proclaimed Jackie of all trades, Erica Corsano has had her hands in many creative projects, including content creation and consulting for media outlets, arts institutions, nonprofit organizations and various lifestyle brands. Corsano has contributed to Condé Nast, yahoo.com, Modern Luxury, WHERE, Jetsetter.com, FOX, CNN, NBC, CNBC.com, and many other media outlets and served as an adjunct instructor at Massachusetts College of Art and Design.
She has run glossy lifestyle magazines, served as a group editor for a Travel Media company, appeared as a lifestyle correspondent on various television programs, co-hosted a popular radio show, contributed to national travel outlets and written cover stories for Pulitzer-prize-winning newspapers and magazines.
She currently handles all content and communications for Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU and the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU.
Her free time is spent with her two Jack Russell Terriers Penelope and Henri, volunteering for animal advocacy organizations, writing about the arts, philanthropy and travel, and running a spiritually-based company “The Accidental Mystics,“ with her husband, Mark.