July 22, 2016
An off-white piano sits in the living room of Mikita Brottman's apartment in the Belvedere Hotel. On a shelf is a glass jar containing a piglet pickled in formaldehyde. There's an antique metal bird cage, an old dress form and a collection of preserved beetles with jewel-colored shells.
The apartment is Victorian, but askew. It features three massive chandeliers and a life-size statue of a sitting greyhound. The study is lined with floor-to-ceiling wooden bookshelves whose top tiers are accessible only by giants, or by using the attached sliding ladder. The walls and ceilings are painted mustard, coral, steel blue and lime.
Visually, the apartment is a series of small skirmishes between different design elements that mutely clamor for attention.
Yet the atmosphere that these objects create is utterly devoid of pretense. The preoccupations of the apartment's inhabitants — Brottman and her longtime partner, the film critic David Sterritt — are on display for all to see. Even more than the fanciful objects, it's that quality that puts guests immediately at ease and makes the apartment a place they want to be.
Welcome to a three-dimensional representation of the mind of Mikita Brottman: author, literature professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art, dog lover, certified lay (non-physician) psychoanalyst, and leader of a book club for convicted murderers and rapists.