Profiles

MY LOOK: Jonathan Browns, a cultural planner for the city’s art collection, chats about his eye-catching personal style

Jonathan sports a blue pinstripe suit, bought in New York, with a floral Nodus shirt from Paris. On his feet, MoxyMaüs socks and Ansarina shoes. He’s also wearing Anne et Valentin glasses, a Knox Tom ‘n’ Jerry fedora, and a bow tie handmade by an artist from Medicine Hat. Photography by Jonathan Hobin.

Interview by Erica Eades

How does your work as a cultural planner for the city’s art collection affect your style? It gives me freedom to have a more artistic sense of style and to be able to push boundaries in a corporate setting. It allows me to have a bit more play involved in what I wear.

How do you describe your personal style? It’s partially vintage, and there’s a lot of colour.

What do you think of men’s fashion today? Generally, it is very conservative. If you go into a corporate environment, it’s blue and black suits. Women have a lot more variety in fashion in the sense of choices and colours. So, for men, it’s trying to find unique pieces that add a little more interest, whether that’s in a standard corporate setting or whether it’s just in your personal life.

Your ever-changing moustache [which currently resembles the barely there “cropped Dalí” style] has become an integral part of your look. What inspired this? Initially, it was just going on a holiday and not shaving for a while. Then I went to New York City and saw a Salvador Dalí exhibition and thought of the idea of using moustache wax to change my facial hair to something a little bit different. After I added that moustache, I found a Salvador Dalí artwork at an estate sale. The new joke is that maybe I should get a white wig and I’ll discover an Andy Warhol.

What do you consider when suggesting what pieces of city-owned art a corporate client may want to rent to decorate their office space? It all depends on the client and the space. The first step is having a dialogue with the client so that I understand what they really want — what sort of tone or mood. Then, of course, there are the physical limitations of the size or safety of certain artworks. Working with clients who are really arts-friendly allows me to play with artworks that are more challenging.

Who have you worked with? Oh, it’s all over the map. Everyone from the mayor to heads of paramedic services to the people who deal with parking permits. We have artworks in about 150 municipal buildings, and some of those buildings have space to exhibit hundreds of artworks.

Featured art: (Clockwise from bottom left) Tavi Weisz, “Son of a bitch look what he can do, 2010”; Yvonne Wiegers, “Colony 11004”; Kathryn Drysdale, “Vorlage Series #11, 1993”; Victor Tolgesy, “The Caravan of Life, 1979”; Patrick John Mills, “I Love You, 2011” (behind Brown’s left knee)