Is it a nail salon? Is it an art gallery? Well, in the case of Vanity Projects it’s a mixture of both. The salon/art space defines itself as a luxury concept that merges a high-end nail art atelier with video art programming. “Our vision is to re-shape the way patrons perceive and experience video art by placing it in an engaging environment,” reads their website. “We specialize in innovative manicures from the most sought-after nail artists in addition to a standard nail salon menu using the finest nail lacquers,” they add.
Founded by independent curator, Rita de Alencar Pinto in 2008, Vanity Projects first began as a pop-up, organizing itself in the homes and studios of visual artists, friends, and art aficionados. Now, based in two primary locations – the first in Manhattan’s Lower East Side and the second in Miami, Florida – the original concept has drawn nail artists from around the world.
With an artist-in-residence program, it also offers top international nail artists the chance to engage and experience the exchange of technique and ideas. With a host of video artists as well, the result is an explosion of creativity and color. At least judging by their Instagram page.
But why the name Vanity Projects? “The choices when it comes to naming something in the art world is always either your name or something with ‘project’ and I didn’t want it to be my name,” said Pinto in an interview with Paper Magazine. “That’s not my focus. ‘Vanity Project’ is a twist on the pun, and then also it being a nail salon. I wanted to have fun with it as well as being rooted in an art world tradition.”
With invitations to participate in pop-ups at the Pulizer Foundation in St. Louis, The Brooklyn Museum, The Aldrich Museum, and the Aspen Museum of Art, it’s clear Pinto is having fun.