Culture clash: recreating modern art at my local Vietnamese nail salon

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20th century Dutch painter Piet Mondrian’s signature artwork is this canvas of clean lines, and primary colors. It’s inspired high fashion and pop culture. And I thought it would be cool to get on my nails! So, I dropped in on my nail salon. Let’s just say they all looked at me like I was crazy. Try explaining to your Vietnamese manicurist and pedicurist who speak little English; that you want a white base, with straight and asymmetrical black lines, filled in with primary colors. Not easy. And quite frankly, I could see that I was starting to piss them off a little. But I pressed on!

I explained over and over what I wanted. The first lines were drawn: equal tic-tac-toe lines. No. “You want angles?” No. “How you want the lines?” like this <cue youtuve demo> It went on like this for a while. They looked confused. They looked annoyed. But slowly and surely, Mondrian began to materialize. I was awed. I was amazed that having never seen the art before, my manicurist was doing a perfect copy. The struggle was worth it. Afterwards, my manicurist even wanted to snap some pictures. Hmmm… what’s next? Monet? Pollack? Maybe she could have been a painter in another life.

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Confession: the toes didn’t turn out so well. Yikes!

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