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How Mega-Collector and Scholar Estrellita Brodsky Uses Her Nonprofit Gallery to Grow Visibility for Latin American Artists


Another Space, the Chelsea gallery where arts patron, scholar, and collector Estrellita Brodsky and her husband, Daniel, present works by an array of Latin American and Latinx artists, is open—like so many other places these days—by appointment.

Yet Brodsky—who has endowed curatorial positions at the Met, and whose husband is the encyclopedic museum’s board chair—is looking on the bright side. Despite more than a year of restrictions and lockdowns, some things have gone well.

“It has been an interesting period, and a nice sense of community within the art world [has developed], even though I wasn’t able to get out as much,” she told Midnight Publishing Group News by phone.

“It was nice to keep in touch with people and hear what they were doing, even if was on a Zoom call.”

Her ongoing connections allowed Brodsky to forge ahead with programming at Another Space, which shows works from her collection alongside a variety of loans to examine Latin American and Latinx art through an array of lenses, and always with an eye towards new narratives.

“I always try to have a bit of a correction of history, both in my collecting and my philanthropic work,” Brodsky said. “So many artists from Latin America or of Latin heritage in the United States have been overlooked, so that has continued to be of interest to me, and I’m also drawn to works that are socially and politically engaged.”

Stayin’ Alive,” the gallery’s current show about survival and resistance in the face of climate change, takes its title from the Bee Gees’ eponymous hit. Once it closes, the space’s next show will be “Absence/Presence: Latinx and Latin American Artists in Dialogue.” It is slated to open on June 9.

One of the luxuries of having the Chelsea space is the ability to “be more reactive to current events or deal with issues that I find particularly compelling,” Brodsky said. “It’s a good way not only to think about what I’m collecting, but also to see new artists.”

For instance, a recent discovery of hers through “Stayin’ Alive” has been Guatemalan artist Sandra Monterroso, whose work addresses indigenous practices and Guatemala’s long-standing political instability.

Other artists featured in the show include Laura Aguilar, Allora and Calzadilla, Lucas Arruda, Firelei Báez, Agnes Denes, Ana Mendieta, Adrián Villar Rojas, and Anicka Yi.

“I was interested not only in the idea of exploiting nature or natural resources, but also Latin American and American artists who have dealt with the environment as eco-activists,” Brodsky said. “Because of that show, I started collecting some artists who had not been on my radar.”

Brodsky says she’s often gravitated towards collecting women artists without necessarily being aware of it. A 2018 show of works from her collection was titled “The Second Sex” after the influential 1949 treatise by the French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir. Roughly 40 percent of the works in the exhibition were by female artists such as Carmen Herrera, Lygia Clark, Lygia Pape, Gego, Mira Schendel, Anna Maria Maiolino, and Adriana Varejão.

For “Absence/Presence,” Brodsky will turn her attention to issues even closer to home. The show, which is being organized with curator Cecilia Fajardo-Hill, who has published and curated extensively on contemporary Latin American and international artists, will highlight works by artists who explore the duality of their mixed heritage.

Laura Aguilar, a photographer whose work Brodsky recently acquired, is Mexican American, but her place in the world is complicated.

“She clearly identified as Chicanx, but she felt alienated,” said Brodsky, who also comes from mixed heritage.

“I was born in the United States, but both my parents were from Latin America—Venezuela and Uruguay—so I find labels are challenging.”

So how exactly does she interpret the term Latinx? “It’s become a real point of discussion and it’s complicated,” Brodsky said. Because Spanish is a gendered language, it’s intended as a more gender-fluid term.

But that doesn’t answer every question, Brodsky said. “How do you define some artists who never considered themselves either? I think it’s a term that’s evolving.”

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Will Insley – Dystopic Architect, city of the future

What caught my eye was his piece entitled “/Building/ No. 36. Passage Space Hinge”.

Insley’s usage of monotonic lines to create a isometric perspective work of art is a bit overwhelming in areas. The patterns of lines work together to create a three-dimensional structure which appears to be moving underneath the surface.  The over-use of Pointillism is quite plentiful; this is more pronounced on the areas outside of the structure.

It is quite obvious that Insley felt his work as a potential architect would have been more appreciated on canvas instead of rolled
away on a blueprint. After finding this piece, I decided to dig around some to find the real ‘meaning’ behind his work. The artist described his own interests as having “very little to do with advanced planning theories of the present” and no relation really at all to the ”utopias of the future, but rather with the dark cities of mythology, which exist outside of normal times in some strange location of extremity.”

Insley’s monolithic project ‘Foundations OneCity’ took around fourty years of his time, starting in the 1950s.

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Building 36, on display at the NC Museum of Art

The idea behind OneCity was to have the United States encompass “one city” that spread from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi and would be the home of 400 million people.  The city was composed of 14,000 city square buildings, each 2-and-a-half-miles wide and each containing 100 rooms. The grandiose structure is designed to  divide the ‘day people’ or normals, and ‘night people’ aka weirdos between upper and lower sections, respectively.

Building 25

Building 25

 

Building 17

Building 17

Insley’s contemporary, seemingly endless lines and points are truly hypnotizing and bring on a world of wonder.

Will Insley, 1959-2011

Will Insley, 1959-2011