SHE CAME. SHE SHOWED OFF. SHE CONQUERED.
New Orleans–based pop artist Ashley Longshore stormed into Houston like an overwhelming force of nature, charming billionaire Tilman Fertitta and leaving a host of Bayou City swells in her wake. The sassy, outspoken artist/entrepreneur took over a 5,000-square foot space in Fertitta’s Post Oak Hotel office tower Thursday to showcase her wild and wacky works of art, which have some labeling her as “the Andy Warhol of the 21st century.”
She also signed copies of her new book, You Don’t Look Fat, You Look Crazy, for a large audience of devoted fans at the hotel’s boutique, 29° North.
“I like color. I like to have fun. I don’t like pretentiousness,” Longshore explained during a walk-through of the one-night-only exhibition. “The greatest part of America is that you work hard and you can have whatever the hell you want. I work harder now than I did 24 years ago when I started, and it’s a pleasure every day. I wake up excited about the opportunity. It can rain money or it can be sh*tstorm. But I love me some me. And I work hard and I love my life. What’s not to celebrate?”
Longshore specializes in oversized works of art featuring such pop culture icons as Madonna, Anna Wintour, Frida Kahlo, and Audrey Hepburn (“I’ve compulsively painted Audrey Hepburn for 15 years,” she says), along with images of updated presidential figures—in one painting, George Washington wears a Louis Vuitton Supreme shirt and tinted sunglasses.
She also traffics in butterfly patterns and bold statements. One painting reads, “If You Ain’t Thinking About Getting Rich You Ain’t Thinking”; another opines, “Feminism is a Real Panty Dropper.”
Though Longshore has been creating artworks for nearly a quarter of a century, she’s suddenly the toast of the New York fashion/art scene after entering into a collaboration with Bergdorf Goodman. She was the first female artist to have a solo exhibit with the tony retailer, creating window displays along 5th Avenue, and a new cafe, Palette at BG, features her work. Such celebrities as Blake Lively, Salma Hayek, and Penelope Cruz are big fans.
But Longshore said it’s Houston that has won her heart.
“This is a city that just went through the total destruction of Harvey, and it is thriving a year later. The American dream is alive and well in Houston, and I love the idea of big houses, gorgeous women and men, fast cars, V12 engines humming in the background. You know Houston is doing well, because you hear and feel that pulse when you are here,” she says.
“It gets me excited. I am an artist. I sell paintings. I have to have that energy around me. I don’t want to be scratching a broke ass. I want a V12 engine too, you know?”
She marveled that the Post Oak Hotel is the only hotel where you can put a Rolls Royce on your room charge (there’s an upscale car dealership right off the lobby). And while Fertitta, who stopped by to say hello during a luncheon Longshore was having with a group of Houston writers, didn’t promise her a Rolls Royce, “you heard him say I could have a Lambo,” she remarked.
“I think we vibed in our own way. When you meet a true entrepreneur like Tilman, he’s got great energy. He believes in himself, he knows what he’s doing. He’s self-made. Same here. I believe in myself, I ain’t got nothing to hide. Honey, let’s rock ‘n’ roll. Tell me what you think. I ain’t afraid. Ain’t nothing going to keep me down,” she says.
More than 300 Houston notables attended a cocktail reception that Fertitta hosted for Longshore Thursday night. Spotted in the A-list crowd were Lynn Wyatt, Diane Lokey Farb, Vivian Wise, Terri and John Havens, Ceron and Todd Fiscus, Lindsay Radcliff, Estela Cockrell, Bailey and Peter McCarthy, Tatiana Massey, Brian Teichman and Andrew Cordes, Lisa Oren, Brenda and Brad Jones, Ting Besnahan, Meg Lonergan, Marita Fairbanks, and Francine Ballad, a close pal of Longshore who facilitated the Houston happening.
While organizers wouldn’t divulge how many of the 100 paintings on display were sold at the party, “it was a very successful night for Ashley Longshore,” a hotel spokesperson said.