Manicures At The New Museum Give Nail Art A Whole New Meaning

Maybe we’ve been following the Fuck Yeah Nail Art Tumblr a little too closely, but doesn’t it seem like everybody’s obsessed with nail art lately? From OPI’s Shatter collection to Sally Hansen Salon Effects, you needn’t look further than your local drugstore for an array of nail embellishment accessories, the likes of which would have been unheard of five years ago. Nail art has come to the masses, and anyone can dip a toothpick into an old polish and call themselves an expert. So yeah, I thought I was into nail art. But then I went to the New Museum to get my nails done in a pop-up salon set up by visual artist Dzine.

A manicurist from Soho salon Valley was on hand last Saturday to do nails in the museum store’s street-facing lobby window, meaning that I sat on a custom-designed throne trying to relax my hands for all the walking population of the Bowery’s ogling pleasure. “Part sculpture, part performance,” for sure. (Have you ever sat on a throne? I feel like I didn’t get to fully embrace the sitting experience because a little TV playing rap videos was embedded in the chair’s back, and I didn’t want to break it.) Manicures will continue for the next two Saturdays, and though you can certainly come to watch, sessions are all booked up as of now.

It started much like a regular manicure, with all the attendant feelings of, “Ugh! How come I can never get the polish to go on that smoothly when I do my own nails?” Soon enough though, my manicurist covered the area under my right ring finger with a protective band, whipped out a previously-unknown-to-me substance called acrylic powder in bright yellow-green, and began to shape a diamond-y blob out of it, which she then plopped onto my nail. I admit that I wasn’t enthused about this blob, because a strange intuition accompanied it, the kind of intuition you only get when you come to understand that the bright green blob on one of your nails is probably going to be the cephalothorax of a tiny frog. (Or whatever, “trunk” if that’s the proper reptilian term.) I wanted, I don’t know, some cool Mondrian shapes or something, and I got a frog.

I guess I could have come in with a request so as to avoid the crying-out-for-a-metaphor-ness of a frog (you know, that thing you have to kiss a lot of?). Oh well. My manicurist artfully fashioned two hind legs and two arms out of the powder, each complete with what I guess are little pink toes. (Toes, along with cephalothorax, do not appear on the “parts of a frog” diagram I pulled up to aid me in the writing of this post.) The best part was that the frog got two tiny pink rhinestones for eyes.

I was told that the little guy would last me about two days. I lost a leg that night at the gym (a place I go alllll the time and not just when I want to test the durability of over-the-top nail art). Being right-handed, it occurs to me that next time I get a little reptile on one of my nails, it should probably be on the other hand so I can write more easily. I’ve also been self-conscious on the subway and when paying for things, not wanting to explain that I’m part of a totally important art endeavor, okay? And certainly there was that moment of truth Sunday night when I had to ask myself: am I really an adult who’s going to go into my office with a tiny frog on one of my nails? I did, by the way, so I guess that’s exactly what kind of adult I am. Roughly 55 hours after creation, the rest of the frog, save an errant toe, remains intact.

The New Museum store kindly provided us with images of my frog, as well as some more nail art from Saturday. And be sure to check out their gold-plated Pinky Nails limited edition, created by Dzine and for sale in the store.

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