At NAILS Magazine, we recognize nail art as a legitimate art form — if you need evidence of that, just check out our annual Mini Masterpiece contest
— so we were thrilled to hear that Chicago-based artist Dzine
would be partnering with Subliminal Projects gallery
in Los Angeles to showcase nail art in a group exhibition, appropriately called Nailed. Based on his book Nailed: The History of Nail Culture and Dzine
, the gallery exhibit is a terrific way to peruse nail art as a true art form.
My husband and I went to the opening night reception on Friday inside the Echo Park gallery, and we loved the framed arrangement of the nail art photos, plus the 3-D sculptures displayed in velvet boxes (handmade by Dzine and brought with him on the plane) and nail art designs displayed in front of the limited-edition sneakers they complemented. In addition to Dzine’s own work, nail artists Liz Baca, Gabriella Davi-Khorasanee, Igor Jovic, Simone Lueck, Chris Mosier, Kai Regan, Dominique Renee, Jamel Shabazz, Mickalene Thomas, and Monika Zbijowska also have work on display.
Dzine’s previous Nailed exhibits in New York and Florida did not have an independent curator, but Dzine thought it important to bring in Pedro Alonzo (of The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston
) to curate his third nail art exhibit. “I wanted a museum curator to organize the exhibition of photos, product, and merchandise, and artwork that was in the book. I love the fact that a museum curator is giving some legitimacy to this art form. That was most important to me.”
Dzine added that he wanted the nail artists who were featured in his book but had likely never exhibited in a gallery to have the chance to exhibit their work at a gallery.
Dzine (shown here at the right, with me), who has been an artist for about 20 years, told NAILS this is his first exhibit ever in Los Angeles. “When it comes to nail culture, Los Angeles is a special dynamic just because of the diasporas you have here,” Dzine says. “The community here really understands it.”
I asked Dzine about where he sees nail art heading in the next five years, and he cautioned on the need for nail art to remain original and pure. “It’s incredible how big this business is. The problem that will happen — similar to gentrification — is you find the subculture, you find the artsy neighborhood, but people move in, clean it up, make it glossy, and then you lose the culture.” He added, “For me, I’m a purist. I’d rather have the nail artists who are doing the actual paintings around, rather than big businesses that do adhesive nail art stickers. There’s no culture in that.” He says that while “nail art is a trend, and trends come and go,” he thinks there will be handful of people that will stand out and be more entrepreneurial with nails. “They will be the go-to people.“
After the Los Angeles exhibit, Nailed has plans to travel worldwide. An exhibit will open on November 10 in Berlin, Germany (including European nail artists), and hopefully to Asia in the future.
To catch the Nailed exhibit in L.A., visit Subliminal Projects (1331 W Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026) from Wednesday to Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Admission is free. The exhibit runs through October 6, on which date artist Madeline Poole will be in the space creating nail art designs on attendees’ nails.