By Debbie Wells
Alabama-born and New Orleans-based mixed-media artist Ashley Longshore is obsessed with pop culture, fashion, and American consumerism. Her bold compositions, vivid colors and sassy personality have been recognized by art-collecting celebrities and fashionistas alike. Some of her clients include Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, Dee and Tommy Hilfiger, Eli Manning, and Kelly Ripa. Longshore is a champion of Instagram: she knows how to dress with flair and dance with verve to promote herself on social media. Her devoted list of followers have paid from $5,000 to $50,000 for her work within minutes.
In addition to online, one can always see her work on view at one of NYC’s legendary department stores, Bergdorf Goodman. After designing their Fifth Avenue windows in 2018, Longshore was invited by the BG Fashion Director Linda Fargo to star as its first female solo resident artist its 100+ year history. Her assignment was to design the décor of their Palette at BG restaurant as an art installation/cafe. Her There Is No Crying at Bergdorf Goodman painting sets the tone for a fanciful array of her works from resin paintings, mirrors and even the placemats and whimsical Time Out chairs. She also has some of her home décor pieces for sale, as well as an exclusive capsule collection of Judith Leiber Couture purses, including larger-than-life Swarovski crystal encrusted creations of lipsticks and credit cards.
Her most recent stint in NYC ended in May 2019 – at a gem of an art gallery located within the Diane Von Furstenberg flagship location under the High Line in the Meatpacking District. When von Furstenberg first met the artist in London, she was impressed by her talent and asked her to collaborate in honor of International Women’s History Month. The goal was to curate a collection of portraits celebrating strong women.
The story of this exhibition is worth telling…According to the exhibition catalogue, “I gave Ashley a list of women who have inspired me through their energy and achievements and she has done an amazing job creating their portraits.” So, Longshore painted thirty-seven colorful portraits of accomplished women across the spectrum – including Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Amelia Earhart, Rosa Parks, Jackie Kennedy, Cleopatra, Anne Frank, Oprah Winfrey, Frida Kahlo, Madame Curie, Diana Ross, Peggy Guggenheim, Mother Theresa, and even the iconic Barbie Doll. The artist not only featured straight-forward pop portraits of her subjects, she used DVF signature prints (which Longshore researched by going through the designer’s archives) in the backgrounds. Unlike much of her art that has components of glitter or resign, Diane von Furstenberg asked her to portray theses legendary females only in acrylic paint on canvas. Longshore’s distinctive technique is painterly and loose which gives her work a playful and spontaneous look. Her ability to capture a likeness is evident as well.
The paintings, varying in size and shape, are artfully hung salon-style in a small pink-hued gallery area adjacent to the DVF merchandise displays.
Longshore comments in the catalogue that, “the result feels very fresh, honest, and fearless. Diane’s quote, Fear is Not an Option, is so pertinent in my own career because when you realize the woman you are and who you want to become, fear really is not an option. It has been such an honor to work with Diane. She is thoughtful, brilliant and unbelievably enthusiastic about women.”
INTERVIEW WITH DEBBIE WELLS
DW: In today’s world, it seems that recognition as a female artist is more empowering than ever. How do you think that being a woman has affected the trajectory of your career?
AL: I am an entrepreneur. I am an artist. It just so happens that I am a woman. I don’t wake up and think “I am a woman! What am I going to do as a woman today?” I wake up as a human with a list of things to do and goals to accomplish and just go after it.
DW: You cleverly express the thoughts of modern women everywhere –about fashion, art history, politics, body image, consumerism and more. Why do you integrate this philosophy into your art so energetically?
AL: I am painting my own journey of being a woman – of being a human, of being a consumer, of being an American. I enjoy having fun in my life. I don’t like pretentiousness, so I try and stay enthusiastic and optimistic. My never-changing constant is that I love me some me and no matter what the world thinks or says I can sleep like a baby at night.
DW: Are these reflections of your own personal life or other sources?
AL: My paintings are from my life experience – from traveling, being with friends, collectors. It is the fabric of my life that I’m sharing with everyone. That is the relatability and intimacy of the artist and collector. It is a magnetic symbiosis.
DW: What percentage of time do you spend as a businesswoman vs. artist?
AL: Is it possible to say that I am always doing both? As a business woman, I get so many of my art ideas. The execution of my ideas happen quickly. It’s though experience and new challenges that I always get new ideas.
DW: You have been described as the female version of Andy Warhol. Do you enjoy that comparison?
AL: People always need to compare everything with something. I am my own woman, but yes, I use recognizable brands to convey my feelings about status in America and where I fit in in all that.
DW: Your fame has skyrocketed in recent years. How do you account for that?
AL: If you think 25 years of grinding and hustling is “skyrocketing” then I guess that’s what you’d call it. I’d call it a slow burn. Also, I have incredible people around me – very capable, wise, intuitive people who understand me and my mission. We work together as a well-oiled machine.
DW: Your work is shown throughout the US and internationally, but you are making an especially big splash with us in Manhattan and the Hamptons. How is it different from your home base in New Orleans?
AL: I love the Hamptons – I love Manhattan! It’s just a polished shiny version of the raw diamond that is New Orleans. Everything is pristine and beautiful. Layers and layers of picture-perfect hydrangeas, beautiful people, incredible food…it defines a beautiful, successful, inspiring part of Americana.