Kevin Brown, 53, owner of the 8-year-old Station North Arts Cafe Gallery and the new Nancy Cafe in the Maryland Institute College of Art Graduate Studio Center, is often recognized as one of the faces of the growing Station North Arts District. That's why he was an easy choice as emcee for the Hands On! Gala benefiting the Baltimore Montessori Public Charter School, which opened in Station North in 2008 and offers free Montessori education to students from kindergarten through eighth grade from around the city. An enthusiastic promoter of Station North, Brown is also exuberant in his personal style. "Some guys just won't do fringe or pink. I don't mind. I'll do fringe. I'll do pink. ... I went to work today and I had on sequins at 9 o'clock in the morning," the Guilford resident says. However, for this particular night, Brown turned the volume down. "I went with some simple: black and silver. I told myself, 'You're going to help the show, not be the show.'" Brown's favorite piece in his wardrobe isn't flashy. Rather, it's about family. "My father had a cardigan. And it means a lot to me. He wasn't a cardigan guy. He was a working guy. He drove a truck for 49 years. He was a Teamster, for crying out loud. He took care of his 17 kids [Brown is the youngest] and he had a drink on Friday. But every so often, he'd put that cardigan on, because my mother would want to see him in something other than his work clothes. So, every so often, I put my dad's cardigan on." His style: "I'm an eclecticist. I'm adventurous, too. I'll wear almost anything. I'll go to my sister's house and borrow her clothes sometimes. I'm not hesitant to wear something that may be a little feminine, like a frilly or shiny top or something that's deemed not as masculine as it should be." His ensemble: Black Lee racerback T-shirt. Y.M.L.A. black matte jersey top with silver chain lace-up placket from Dreamland vintage clothing shop. Silver pleather trousers he bought 20 years at Cignal on Charles Street. Giorgio Brutini square-toe loafers. Dark-gray herringbone, short-brimmed fedora with light-gray tweed band from Hats in the Belfry. Wire-rimmed rectangular glasses from Paris West Optical -- "I wore round [glasses] forever, but I wanted to go angular because my face is thin, and I like the squareness of these. I wanted to be taken more serious[ly], to give me that edge. ... I'm not a square. But my glasses are." His "face accessories": For 15 years, he's had the Vandyke beard. But he grew the new sideburns just two weeks ago "All the hip guys are growing beards. Beards are in. But I just think sideburns are sexier." If money was no object, he'd buy: "Tom Ford. Absolutely. A Tom Ford suit. I think there's nothing better than a real tall, skinny guy in a real great-cut suit. There's nothing better than that, really."
Photo by Karen Jackson, For The Baltimore Sun