"Hand Jobs" Nail Art Show Nails It

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Artist Brittany Tokyo shows off her work.
Recently, we featured a nail art and jewelry show with the headline, Get a Free Hand Job in the Mission. And while we might have had a little fun with puns and a collective snicker at the show's title -- "Hand Jobs" -- we can assure you that the art on display was no joke. The show was -- hands down -- the best nail art we'd ever seen.

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24K Studios is tucked away in a small, nondescript building between Potrero Del Sol Park and S.F. General. "We found it on a fluke," co-curator Lidija Ristic said while frantically setting up wine glasses and snacks, "and we were like, 'We have to get in here.'"

For most of the year, the space serves as their personal studio, but "every once in a while when we're inspired by an artist or an idea we have a show."

With the level of detail that went into the rings, nails, and accessories on display, it's easy to see why the pieces in "Hand Jobs," inspired their own show, but fans didn't have to settle for looking. Several of the artists were in the house and some offered professional nail painting on site.

The first to arrive was Nail Jerks, who brought a neon sign, and the various paints, colors and tools she uses to create, "hood nails."

"The more ghetto the better," she says of her work.

Nail Jerks has been painting nails for 3 or 4 years and found her way into the scene with the authoritative online fashion magazine MISS. While she described her style as often loud and blingy, the nails she painted for Tiffany, were cool, colorful, and classy.

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Tiffany rocks "hood nails," by Nail Jerks.

Also in attendance was L.A.-based artist Nail Swag, who goes for more of a 3D style, preferring acrylics and gels over nail polish. Her work uses, "Japanese influences with an American style," she said, before turning to her next customer.

"Glitter or diamonds?" she asked.

While no show can please everybody -- one greying couple said it was "interesting" in a tone that suggested weird -- the turnout was good, and many people were impressed at the creativity of an art form they hadn't noticed.

"I never paid attention to nails before, but now I will," said Chinese-born, but S.F.-based artist and painter, Gao. "To me, it's mind blowing how people are doing art on a tiny medium."

The tiny in "tiny medium" became apparent when the small gallery was packed and viewers had to jostle for position among the enthusiastic and the iPhoned to get close enough to appreciate the artwork.

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But Ristic didn't let the turnout, or the large number of bloggers and press that came, go to her head. "We're really lucky because a lot of people got excited to be involved," she said, adding "We're pretty casual, we're not looking to profit from the sale of this work."

The group might be casual about sales, but it's obvious they take their artwork seriously, and they have plans for more cross-genre events. Their next show will be "a collaboration between fine art and hairstyling," and is tentatively scheduled for April.

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Nail Swag prefers the 3-D style.

Selected items from "Hand Jobs" will be on display in 24K Studios window for a limited time. Private showings can be arranged by appointment.

For more events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.

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