Louisiana painter and entrepreneur Ashley Longshore has brought her bright, unabashed work to Bergdorf Goodman’s Fifth Avenue store for an exhibition.
The show, running through February, makes Longshore the first female artist in the retailer’s history to have a solo show.
Longshore, who earlier this week released a collaboration with Judith Leiber (in the form of a lipstick-shaped bag bearing the words “Make It Rain”) that nearly sold out overnight, has gained ground on her own terms as an artist bypassing the traditional model of selling through a gallery. Instead, she’s opted for the far more democratic route via social media, and more specifically Instagram, charming her more than 90,000 followers with an unfiltered viewpoint through the lens of pop culture-inspired art that’s made fans of Blake Lively and Penelope Cruz among many others.
“This is America and I believe in opportunity. I believe in hard work. I’m an American woman. I’m an entrepreneur and I love hard work more than anything,” Longshore said. “Yes, I always wanted to have the opportunity to collaborate with huge, luxury brands. I always wanted the opportunity to think my artwork could be in Bergdorf’s….Twenty years later, here I am. The first female solo show in the history of this iconic brand and not only that, to see all five windows on Fifth Avenue with my artwork. I felt a joy in my heart I have never felt before. I felt a sense of accomplishment that I have never felt before. It feels incredible to have this platform.”
Longshore’s exhibition includes a hallway on the building’s seventh floor along with all five windows on Fifth Avenue, the latter of which she didn’t realize was for her art until she was sent a picture of the prime real estate.
“I fell to my knees and started sobbing when they sent me a picture of all five windows,” Longshore said.
The exhibition will be wide-ranging, bringing 50 of Longshore’s paintings, sculptures and other décor — all for sale — the retailer. The exhibition, covering 945 square feet, includes portrait paintings of Frida Kahlo and Audrey Hepburn, diamond rugs and jewel-encrusted butterfly sculptures.
Nicole Dillon, a buyer at Bergdorf Goodman, initially stumbled upon Longshore’s work after seeing her painting of Lil’ Wayne in the Pontchartrain Hotel in New Orleans. She didn’t know it was Longshore’s work at the time until she later read press on the artist’s collaboration with Forty Five Ten.
“I think Ashley’s work evokes happiness and fun and light. It’s colorful and especially being in New York City in January, I think that’s what every New Yorker wants is color in their life,” Dillon said.
Art plays an important part in the retailer’s store, which utilizes the hallway space on the seventh floor to bring in new pieces, changing up the theme every three months.
“For us, our clients want to come to us as the leader of fashion, as the leader of their home décor and to round out the entire look of their homes,” Dillon said. “Art is a huge component of that. They have relationships with our associates and so finding art brings them a complete design element to their interiors.”
It’s certainly not a new idea and Longshore made her foray in retail with For Home Forty Five Ten in Dallas last year, dazzling fans with paintings, rugs and sculptures in addition to a collection of hand-painted bags done in collaboration with designer Mark Cross.
Longshore said an encore with Forty Five Ten in Houston is expected in the spring, in addition to a collaboration with Linda Farrow. First up, however, is a project with Titan Black, a firm that makes modifications to Rolex watches. The pieces, due out in the next couple months, consist of what Longshore described as “custom. Gorgeous. Luxury, darling.”