My adoration for New Orleans-based artist Sarah Ashley Longshore started long ago. Well, not that long ago, but certainly at a time when a lil’ someone like moi was able to communicate via email with the now-queen of Pop Art like an old pal. Fast forward to last week when Ashley graced Houston with her signature, over the top presence, and things felt like they came full circle. After six years of my courtship, we were *finally* able to meet (embrace) in person - and so I thought this momentous occasion merited a collage and a trip down memory lane.
2017 Limited Edition Beaded Bags by Ashley Longshore
Once upon a time, there was a girl who graduated UVA and was immediately hit with the real-life-blues, only to be doubled down with said blues upon starting to work for Teach for America shortly thereafter. With what can only be compared to a balloon being pricked with a needle and all the air coming out at once, the college “good life” was gone in an instant, and girl was left positively windburned.
The year was 2012, and girl was scouring the internet, looking for beautiful things to distract her from her not-so-beautiful day job (as she still does today). Enter artiste Ashley Longshore, whose pieces filled with glitter, color, and visual stimulation left girl with her eyes filled with hearts (like the emoji). Girl annoys her mom about how much she lurves Longshore to exhaustion; mom bequeaths girl with a commissioned Longshore portrait of girl and her cat for girl’s birthday; girl.freaks.the.flip.out. Does girl own Louboutins or a Louis Vuitton chest? No. Can girl even afford to drink Veuve? Absolutely not - she’s on a teacher’s salary. BUT a girl can dream, and dream she does of the “good life” that she once thought was gone forever, thanks to the talents of Longshore.
We fast forward to fall of 2013. Girl has decided to go to law school (at this point, much like the author, you’re probably wondering why does girl continue to inflict such pain on herself?), and upon receiving the first of her loan money from UPenn, she decides the most reasonable and responsible thing to do is to buy herself a Longshore piece. This time around she goes with an Audrey Hepburn wearing a cap of anemones, since she can already predict her eventual lapse into insanity brought on by studying and exams and a Philadelphia winter will lead to her wanting someone else to talk to besides her cat.
We fast forward again, this time to 2014, when Longshore causes Insta-hysteria with her Selfie Project, inviting her followers to send her a selfie - a lucky 500 will be chosen and painted. Girl can’t possibly resist; girl sends Longshore a selfie; girl faints when she finds out she is chosen/painted, hits her head on the floor of her empty apartment, awakens days later/eventually recovers when cat wakes her up with some hungry-meows (not really but almost - figured if you’re still reading we need to up the ante a little). Girl repeats the same play-by-play in the previous sentence when Longshore takes her Selfie Project to the Bergdorf Goodman windows in January of 2018.
I could go on, but you already know how this story ends because at this point Longshore has broken the internet. Apart from being fawned over by celebs and being the first female solo artist to take over the Bergdorf Goodman windows, she is now Bergdorf’s artist in residence (with a restaurant designed to showcase her work) and one of the most recognized names in the Pop Art world. Much like I was back in 2012, the masses are (rightly) attracted to her no-F’s given, sequin-encrusted depictions of the “good life” because (at the very least) they make you feel like you’re living it just by looking at them.
An afterword: Longshore visited Houston last week for a book signing at the Post Oak Hotel, and you bet your bottom dollar I squeezed my preggo self into a dress and waddled my way over. You can also probably guess all the thoughts that were playing in my mind: will she remember me? will there be a really long line? will people take pity on me and let me cut the really long line? what should I say to seem less-stalker and more-hypegirl?, etc. Well it was certainly a *moment* when she spotted me walking into the book signing, and ran over to give me a hug AND ask about my cat! Dead. Died and gone to heaven, I tell ya. I can confidently say it was one of the coolest moments of my very “good life,” following Ashley these last six or so years has been one of the coolest things I’ve ever done (go girl!), and that she is the coolest (and nicest - I mean, will I ever have a more fabulous bump rub? I think not.) ever. I love her just as much as I did at the start of my story and am happy to share the love with the numbers that grow by the day. The end.