Along with her sister, the late Leona Sobel, Ethel Brody generously gave to the Columbia Museum of Art for nearly half a century. The sisters jointly donated more than one hundred and seventy-five works of art to the CMA’s collection. The breadth and quality of these gifts are impressive. But the most important gift Ethel gave was her enthusiasm. She believed in the power of art to expand personal horizons and inspire imaginations.
Ethel knew that Columbia was a good place to live but envisioned that it could be better. To blossom, the city needed culture at its core. Music now thrives in Columbia, as does literature, dance, and theater. Visual art thrives, too, due in large part to Ethel Brody who understood that living a full life was one thing, but to live life to the fullest one needs all the arts.
Ethel was born and raised in New York City, where she grew up in museums and galleries. From 1947 onward, though, South Carolina was her home. Her love of painting, sculpture and decorative art came with her, and she planted that love here in Columbia. The community’s debt to her can never be measured, though she would have claimed no debt exists with art freely given and received. The value in all things beautiful arises in direct proportion to how much beauty is shared. Ethel shared, with us, all that she had. A great citizen, patron and friend, Ethel Brody will be truly missed.