Fine (Nail) Art

 Rita de Alencar Pinto seeks to sync the worlds of nail art and contemporary art with Vanity Projects and a high-art-concept nail salon.

Every Saturday during the months of January, February and March, when you entered the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) PS1 in New York, a familiar scent hit your nostrils: nail polish. If you followed your nose to the “Confettisystems” installation of the famed contemporary art museum, you’d find another art form that’s gaining respect at an increasing speed: nail art, supplied by the Vanity Projects pop-up, a makeshift salon that hosts a revolving door of the best of the best nail artists. The mastermind behind it? Rita de Alencar Pinto. “I conceived of the idea for Vanity Projects three years ago after my peers started opening small galleries in Manhattan’s Lower East Side,” says de Alencar Pinto. Like her peers, she sought to create a space that would house an art installation, but unlike her peers, de Alencar Pinto wanted something a little off the beaten art world track. Enter Brooklyn-based nail artist Fleury Rose. “I started to get some very intricate two- or even three-hour-long manicures by Fleury, and I became inspired to put the two ideas together in a way that would elevate the experience,” de Alencar Pinto says.

To steer the project from becoming “gimmicky or low-brow,” de Alencar Pinto delved into her manicurist homework. “I started to research the nail artists in the same way I would approach curating an exhibition. Social media was a central part of finding out who was out there and which artists were the best,” she asserts. This lead to visits with famed editorial nail artist Naomi Yasuda (a Lady Gaga favorite), as well as an across-the-pond meeting with The Illustrated Nail artist Sophie Harris-Greenslade in London.

[Photo: Derek Soto/ASH Fox Photography]