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Nail time 

Detroit artist Davin Brainard made a big hit at a Manhattan beauty salon recently with his toenail paintings that looked like strawberries.

“They’re so sexy,” said one satisfied client. “You want to just eat them.”

Nearby, Hitoko Sakai did a fingernail art series titled “Clouds for Peace,” reminiscent of the 1960s idealism of Fluxus artist Yoko Ono. Sakai’s works were executed using fine sable-hair brushes in white enamel painted on fields of blue with white fake fur glued on top.

More than 200 people queued up at the Flatiron District’s Broadway Spa on 25th Street near Broadway for an artful makeover care of Livonia’s Time Stereo records (Warn Defever, Brainard, Sakai et al.). The performance event, dubbed “Nails, Nails, Nails,” was put together by New York-based independent curator Trong G. Nguyen, a big Time Stereo fan, and featured free nail painting and live music. Part of the proceeds went to the charity War Child.

Artists Dion Fisher, Girlee Detroit’s Sara Lapinski and Sakai worked the fingernail stations, while Defever gave haircuts and made chain-link bracelets. Besides cosmetic treatments, the night featured sets by Brainard’s Electric Bear and Defever’s His Name is Alive, which also played the following night at North Six in Brooklyn’s hip Williamsburg area.

The line at the salon started before 8 p.m. and a steady crowd filtered in throughout the night. While waiting for their numbers to be called, makeover hopefuls sipped a blue-colored concoction of cognac, vodka and fruit juice called HPNotiq, a trendy drink from France making the rounds on the hip-hop circuit.

Most people found out about the soiree through Flavor Pill ( or Daily Candy (, online arts and entertainment newsletters for New York and other cities.

Fisher used spray paint and hand-cut stencils to make designs that included miniature People’s Republic of China flags, as well as frog eyes glued over green nail polish.

“I didn’t mask off one person’s hand well enough, so when I sprayed the paint, gold got on her knuckles. But she said that it was all just part of the process,” says Fisher.

Lapinski used nail polish, glitter, sequins, Sharpie felt-tip pens and false eyelashes to make a variety of patterns and designs.

“This reminds me of Man Ray,” Lapinski said of one of the fuzzier examples, referring to the legendary Surrealist whose muse, Meret Oppenheim, made the famous fur-lined teacup.

“Most people let me do whatever I wanted,” says Lapinski of her nail art. “They just put their fingers in my hands.”

Vince Carducci writes about art for Metro Times. E-mail

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October 28, 2020

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