As I await Ashley Longshore seated at a fabulous black table covered in art magazines and spreads of her work, upbeat girl power tunes fill the air. The energy inside her uptown New Orleans gallery is electric.
Outside, two teenagers buzz the door, entering gingerly as if they have reached an art haven of sorts, and eager to catch a glimpse of Longshore.
Artpreneur, Wild woman, New Orleans’ most bad ass artist, Art world disruptor: All of these words have been used to describe the New Orleans based artist.
Across from Longshore’s throne is a giant silver plush chair-couch emboldened with the words “TIME OUT”.
“Hello!” Ashley coos boldly as she enters through a door separating her gallery and studio. She’s draped in an off white smock with a giant crystal fastened by a chain, peering from behind a pair of her over-sized pink sunglasses. She flashes a bedazzled smile.Longshore’s career has culminated in years of blood, sweat and tears. Now, she has emerged in the art world as a force to be reckoned with.
We first interviewed Longshore to learn about her long journey to art stardom when we launched The Distillery. We recently revisited Longshore once more at her glitzy New Orleans gallery to find out what she’s been up to since then, what isn’t on her wildly entertaining Instagram, and what makes this wild, rock-star tick. We asked her roughly twenty questions, and in typical Ashley Longshore fashion, she answered them to our delight, no holds barred.
1. What should every woman try at least once in her life?
I think she should be the moneymaker and see what it’s like to be the one with the power. It’s extremely liberating. I also think you should run naked through a snowstorm. I did that a couple of weeks ago in Santa Fe.
2. What’s your favorite place you’ve visited on artistic sabbatical?
I spent a lot of time in Holland. I love the Netherlands. The Hague is absolutely incredible. I have spent a lot of time in Italy. I also go to Maui – I keep going back to Maui. It’s funny because the difference in how my mind works in a place where I’m surrounded by nature versus somewhere in a very old city like Rome, or studying Dutch painters. It really influences my artwork. I love all of these places. It’s like saying what’s my favorite ice cream. I love all of it.
3. Where would you travel to that you haven’t yet visited?
Oh my god, there are so many places. Let’s see. I can’t wait to go to Iceland, Reykjavik. I really want to go to Sweden. I can’t wait to go to Australia. I think that’s going to be overwhelmingly beautiful. I haven’t been to Vietnam yet. I mean my god, there’s so many places yet to see. I have been traveling a lot lately, though. Being in Tokyo and India and China was absolutely unbelievable. For me, traveling is so important because it really confirms how awesome it is to be a woman in America. I happen upon these women’s empowerment rallies in so many of these places accidentally. We have so much freedom here. Although there is a glass ceiling, and that is 100 percent true, the thing about being an American female entrepreneur is I can start my own business. Even if I’m a lawyer I can start my own practice. If I’m a doctor I can start my own practice.
As an artist I don’t have to depend on the gallery to sell my artwork and take 50 percent from me and never tell me who my clients are. I can open up my own damn gallery and there’s a lot of freedom here, you just have to be willing to work for it. In this political climate that we have right now – I am grateful for it.I’m really trying to see the positivity in it because it is putting a spotlight on how strong women are here, how strong minorities are here, and the unbelievable opportunities that we do have.
“Now, we could sit here right now and talk about all of the things we don’t have, but I think it’s much more productive for us to focus on the positive and to start building and growing.”
That’s really what I’ve tried to do with my entire career. I could sit here and tell you female artists don’t do well at auctions compared to men. I could tell you that 95 percent of all American museums are all full of male artists. I just went to the Georgia O’Keefe museum -the only museum in the United States dedicated to a single woman, like are you shitting me? Knowing all of these things, I can sit around and talk about what’s not fair. I can talk about what’s bullshit. I can talk about what I hate in politics, or I could sit here and tell you what I’m excited about. I could tell you about the opportunities that I do have, and then I’m going to get my ass to work and I’m going to get bigger and bigger. I’m going to inspire and I want other people to realize that they have the exact same opportunities that I do.
4. What would you title your autobiography?
I have a book that just came out. It’s called You Don’t Look Fat, You Look Crazy.
5. What’s one thing you can’t live without?
I can’t live without my paintbrushes and my paint and my easel. I could be broke as shit. Somebody could take everything I have away from me. All I need are my paints and I’ll be happy. That’s the thing when you’re an entrepreneur, when you’re building your own business. The money is definitely a reward and it helps you to continue to build, build ideas. But that money doesn’t define you.
“What defines me is my work ethic and my ability to push through obstacles, to handle failures and to know at the end of the day that I’ve got to be happy with me. If I have my easel, my paint and my canvas, I can be happy no matter what.”
6. What’s one thing you always have in your studio?
Music. I can’t stand it when there’s no music on. Like today, we all had wigs on earlier, you know, colorful wigs, kimonos. It’s barefoot day. All our shoes are by the front door. I just always want to have a fun, exciting work environment where I feel really happy, where my team feels happy, where it’s a safe place where we’re laughing and having fun. I mean, you spend a lot of your life with your co-workers. I’ve got a pretty amazing thing happening here.
7. What’s your favorite piece that you’ve created? If you were to pick – I know it’s probably hard.
Right now I like “Work Hard, Eat Carbs, Spend Money.” I also like this little poem over here, look at this painting with the diamond, the orange one. “Little Miss Muffett Became Warren Buffett and Stacked Up Her Own Money Honey.” I like that painting a lot.
8. What’s your spirit animal?
It’s a lioness.
9. If you could switch lives with someone for a day, who would it be?
My god…maybe Jane Goodall? I love to be in nature. It calms me down more than Xanax. It does! It’s very important for me. So much of my work is about status and greed and stuff and all of these different things that we need to deal with in America and for me, getting away from all that and being in some beautiful field with a blue sky and hearing meadow larks and bluebirds or being in the mountains and seeing ravens circle above. I just love that and it doesn’t cost a dime.
10. What was your last meal?
I had a chicken schnitzel sandwich and the lamb hummus from Shaya.
11. What’s the coolest item of clothing you own?
Okay, I’ve got some good shit. I just bought those YSL sparkle boots and I actually wore this Junya Watanabe unbelievable oragami piece, these shoulder pieces, to the Dallas Art Fair opening gala in Dallas last weekend. Kind of shut that mother down. I have so many sequin pieces from Ashish Gupta, he’s out of London.I’ve got really great sunglasses, I mean, I just had a closet built like Elton John’s closet for all my sunglasses. Fuck – that’s a hard one.
12. If you could be any superhero, who would it be?
I mean duh, Wonderwoman. But we are all already wonderwoman. I’d like to become my own superhero and call her Thunderpussy. Name her after my jet that I want to have one day.
13. What’s your favorite girl power jam?
Khia, My Neck My Back.
14. Who do you think you were in your past life?
Wow, that’s a really good question. It’s funny, as much as I travel, sometimes I go to different countries and I feel like I’ve been there before. I think that I’ve lived many, many lives for sure. What did I do? I think I was probably a mother in another life.
15. What’s the top item on your bucket list?
I’d love to do a collaboration with a major fashion brand. I think that would be really incredible. They just released a collaboration with Louis Vuitton, the Jeff Koons. Also, Judith Leiber has a new creative director. Her name is Dee Ocleppo, she’s Tommy Hilfiger’s wife. She’s very talented. I’d love the opportunity to do a collaboration with her.
I also want to start an art institute. I want to empower artists to realize that they are so marketable, that they are the brand. They can make their own money, and being an artist doesn’t mean that you have to let someone else be in control of your financial well being. The whole world, if we look at it, as a bunch of consumers, creating an original product, taking your thoughts and turning them into tangible items is a very marketable thing. There is no instant gratification and it may take a while to find the right audience, but I really want to help these artists learn how to use all of the social media and all of these incredible things to represent themselves, to keep 100 percent of their profit margins. It’s absolutely bullshit to take 50 percent from an artist. It’s robbery.
16. What is the last item on your credit card statement?
It’s an Yves Klein coffee tables. I just bought it. It’s my dream table for my new house. It’s a blue pigment coffee table. I got a large purchase alert from my Amex. Afterwards, I said, “Okay girls, we need to sell a big painting right now.” But it’s a piece of art! I’m a huge art collector, so I like to keep art money in the art world. And then you know, we’re just exchanging money back and forth. And what’s money anyway, you know? It’s a fucking digital number.
17. Who is on the guest list for your ideal dinner party?
Okay, dream dinner party. Phewwww. I think I would want Michaelangelo there. I would want DaVinci there because I would want to watch them kind of battle it out, because you know they hated each other. Alice Neel, who’s an incredible portrait artist – I really, really love her. We’ve got to throw Andy Warhol in there just to keep it weird. Oprah Winfrey’s got to be there. She’s my biotch. We’ve got to have Beyonce there, and Jay-Z there. Let’s see. Let’s top that off with the Dalai Lama.
Let’s have him. He always could keep everybody in perspective. And Hillary Clinton. And let’s have Jessica Lange and Meryl Streep there too. I feel like these are all people I have a lot to learn from. I think that this is really something that’s important when you’re an entrepreneur, you’re very competitive with yourself obviously, but I think it’s super important to surround yourself with mentors and people that are always teaching you something. I have so much to learn and I’ve got some of the most intelligent, incredible, unbelievable women mentors, oh my god. They’re gracious and beautiful and talented and they’re mothers and they run huge companies and Harvard does case studies about them. I mean how do they do it?
18. This is a little bit of a more hard-hitting question, but my editor wanted me to ask. How much money have you grossed in the past year?
[Laughter] It has got a strong double comma. They call me double comma momma.
19. What’s next?
Oh my gosh, there’s so much. Well, I’m going to be in Los Angeles tomorrow, Monday and Tuesday I will be at Comedy Central and Netflix. There’s a lot of interest in putting my ass on television. I’ve got some museum exhibitions coming up, a big pop-up show in Aspen for the Food and Wine Experience. There’s E! and some other major networks. They sent out this huge press release and I was like “Oh my god!”