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Porn nails and mockingbirds in FAT Village

FAT Village Art Walk: Porn nails and a Mockingbird Trail.

Starting in June, evidence of a giant orange mockingbird will appear all over Fort Lauderdale's Flagler Village neighborhood. Bird tracks in cement stepping stones at Peter Feldman Park. A cracked-open eggshell the size of a Smart Car in the parking lot of the Girls' Club Collection gallery. A stray tangerine feather near Fort Lauderdale City Hall.

A series of public-art sculptures created by Valeria Yamamoto, the Mockingbird Trail will weave through a two-mile downtown path to encourage visitors to roam FAT Village by foot in search of the elusive Florida state bird.

"It'll be like Fort Lauderdale's Loch Ness Monster," says Yamamoto, the Argentinean-Japanese sculptor whose project promotes walkable paths and quality of life in the city.

The "exploration-themed urban art trail," as she calls it, is the focus of "Mockingbird Trail Takes Flight," a fundraiser Saturday, May 30, at the landscape architecture design firm Cadence (435 N. Andrews Ave.). The FAT Village firm, which partnered with Girls' Club Collection and Flagler Garden to organize the project, will host a Chinese auction from 6 to 10 p.m., raffling off gift certificates to Stranahan House, Argyle Coffee Roasters, the Museum of Discovery and Science and other venues. Proceeds will match funds from Mockingbird Trail's $20,000 Community Foundation of Broward's Art of Community grant won in 2014.

The Miami-based Yamamoto, 29, says Cadence brought her on to scatter her concrete- and metal-based sculptures along seven points of interest in the neighborhood "to help people get out of their cars and explore the city." The path (find a map at the Mockingbird Trail Facebook page) loops east through FAT Village, Girls' Club and north along the Third Avenue Art District before doubling back to FAT Village via Flagler Drive.

"You see a hatching egg, but you never see the actual bird," Yamamoto says. "I thought it should be orange because Florida is known for oranges and sun. We wanted to create this lore around a mythical giant. It inspires people to talk about it, and be creative, and feel inspired about art."

Signs and paper maps adorning the completed trail will be unveiled during October's Art Fallout festival in Fort Lauderdale, says Ashley Turner, Cadence's community manager.

"Flagler Village is such an up-and-coming neighborhood, and this establishes a story," Turner says. "People can visit parts of Fort Lauderdale they might only ever see through a car window."

Also debuting in FAT Village on Saturday is "Felt Sew Knot Bound" at the Projects art space (523 NW First Ave.), a group show of works spun from yarn, rope and other textiles curated by Martin Casuso, Peter Symons and Leah Brown. Greeting visitors at the warehouse entrance are Aurora Molina's "Marionettes," nine elderly puppets whose faces are modeled after portraits the Miami artist shot during a residency in Morocco. Kelly Boehmer's intricate "Slip Away" presents a colorful and gruesome bear attack in the forest using yarn, glitter, plastic shopping bags and plush toys.

"It's an incredibly rich and sparkly sculpture depicting this monster scene. It's one big glitter bomb," Symons says. "Her work is so much about beauty and the obscene."

At Girls' Club Collection (117 NE Second St.), meanwhile, is "Esthetic Theory," a pop-up nail salon exploring ideas of femininity and nail art while critiquing sexuality, fashion and new-age spirituality. From 6 to 9 p.m., the gallery will serve coffee and snacks by Colada Cuban Coffee House and Eatery and visitors can reserve nail salon appointments. Sarah Beth Woods will showcase sculptures made from hair weaves, while Jill Weisberg, who operates the trendy Downtown Hollywood Mural Project, uses adult magazines as a canvas for her nail polish paintings. Co-curator Rosemarie Romero, 28, says her pop-up will offer "porn nails," or long, fake press-ons tricked out with diamonds, rhinestones and tacky colors.

"It became kind of like a vulgar joke, because these are the nails you'd see girls wearing in porno magazines," says Romero, a part-time Miami resident. "I like to use camp as a way to talk about issues of sexuality. The nail salon is almost like a psychologist's chair. People unload their fears, hopes and dreams on me."

The May FAT Village Art Walk will run 6-10 p.m. Saturday, May 30 in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-760-5900 or go to FATVillage.com.

pvalys@sun-sentinel.com or Twitter @philvalys

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