Passion and whimsy
What began as a hobby in college has blossomed into a full-blown career for Sarah Ashley Longshore, proprietor of Longshore Studio Gallery on Magazine Street. “I am a completely self-taught artist,” she says. “Before I graduated I had my first one-woman show, and it just so happened that the gallerist was the president of Mexico’s daughter. She bought several pieces and there was a lot of press to follow.” Following this quick ascent into fame, Longshore decided she could be a professional. “In the past year or so I’ve started to become a pop expressionist, using recognizable items in my work.”
Longshore is also a savvy businesswoman who’s working on developing a line of chairs that will be sold through her gallery and through Anthropologie (The line will appear in the catalogue starting in November.) “I never want to do anything that takes away from my passion, which is fine art,” she says. “The chairs are an extension of that. I can completely express my artistic whimsy through furniture.” Longshore is combining different fabrics as well as other textiles and finishings. “The Anthropologie chairs are a little different – they have a great balance of modern and retro,” she says.
Longshore is also working on paintings for shows coming up in Memphis, Houston, Los Angeles and Charleston.
Information, 4848 Magazine St., 458-5500,

Lots of texture
Bridgette Graham – with a background in cardiovascular perfusion and a busy mother of two – took on a hobby-turned-career in 2005 with her jewelry business, BKG Designs, which sells pieces through several area stores including: Elizabeth’s, Thomas Mann I/O, The Villa, La Dolce Vida, The Ogden Museum of Southern Art and Bella Rouge. Graham’s style is eye-catching; she likes to create “big, bold pieces with lots of texture and natural stones. My pieces have the ability to appeal to different generations, from a stylish high-schooler to a busy soccer mom.”
Last month, Graham launched her “Crescent City Charmed” collection, which she describes as “an homage to our city and the unique areas within that make all of us so special.” Graham’s latest line is affordable: “Since the recession, spending $250 to $400 is now not possible for many,” she says. A portion of the sale from every piece of jewelry goes back into the community; currently Graham donates part of her proceeds to the New Orleans Covenant House Woman and Child Program.
She credits her identical twin sister Amy for creative encouragement, “She inspired me to create something that no one else could offer to the public,” says Graham. “The process of building the designs is quite time-consuming. Being creative is still something very new to me and somewhat freeing of the precision of science. I love to expect the unexpected when it comes to metal working.”