Luxe, lively, and larger than life, Ashley Longshore’s work has put her in the same pop art pantheon as Andy Warhol. The New Orleans-based artist has harnessed the power of social media (72k followers on Instagram alone) to bypass the gallery system, connecting directly with her clients through her potty-mouthed videos and quirky posts.
Born in Montgomery, Alabama, Longshore refined her approach while still a coed at the University of Montana. Although her upper-class childhood was filled with lessons in jazz, ballet and tap, she longed to explore her artistic side — and to make money doing it.
“I stole my father’s American Express and went and bought a paint kit when I was 18,” she recalls. “I felt it was the perfect way of expressing myself. I knew there were successful artists ... and I thought, ‘Where are the successful female artists?’ I thought galleries taking 50 percent was complete bullshit. I figured out I could make 100 percent profit margins if I knew who my collectors were.”
She was savvy enough to gather together groups of “country club women” to build up her contact list, throwing art parties to sell her work. Although she says, “there’s been times I haven’t had $250 to pay my rent,” her entrepreneurial spirit eventually led her to New York, where she had shows at La Boîte à Epice and the Pop-Up Art Gallery.
Celebrity clients (Penelope Cruz, Salma Hayek, Blake Lively) and brands (Chloe, Veuve Clicquot) quickly took notice of her candy-colored canvases depicting pop culture icons such as Frida Kahlo, Lil Wayne, Kate Moss and Audrey Hepburn.
While at Neiman Marcus last year for a partnership with Clé de Peau Beauté, Longshore popped into the downtown Dallas Forty Five Ten and purchased an iconic Yves Saint Laurent heart-shaped fur coat. When then-president Brian Bolke heard about the buy, he approached Longshore to bring her “elegant yet rebellious” pieces in store for the first time.
“He said, ‘You are fun and we should do something,’ and now I’m standing here,” says Longshore, who has, up until this point, only sold her art and collectible “Artgasm” home accessories through her New Orleans showroom or her website.
“It’s just incredible the connectivity that can happen when you brace yourself and put stuff out there," she says. "I’ve never allowed anybody to have my product, but (the shop) is so well curated.”
The merry mix of paintings, sculpture, glasses, trays, and plates at Forty Five Ten include everything from a candle ($45) to an inlaid mosaic table balanced on a casting of the artist’s feet ($21,500) and a sequined Kahlo canvas ($30,000). Like all of Longshore’s work, each piece — cocktail napkins to hand-painted Mark Cross bag — is limited edition. Once a style is gone, it’s gone.
“In creating this brand, I wanted to have that essence of urgency,” the artist explains. “I only have a day in my life to put out this artwork. I could walk out of Forty Five Ten now and get hit by a Rolls Royce, or step over an exotic Birkin bag and break my neck, so you’ve got to get on the Ashley train now.”
Ashley Longshore will appear in person, noon-3 pm September 15 at Forty Five Ten For Home on McKinney Avenue.