Artist Ashley Oubre came to her work rather late — she started about age 20, did about four works then stopped.
She’s 27 now and this year she started drawing again and really threw herself into it. She’s done about 25 works on her trademark pencil-and-paper format. About 18 of them were exhibited in her first solo show at the Bartley in Logan Circle on Nov. 28. She sold a handful of the 11×14 works, which she says take between eight and 12 hours on average to complete, and she’s hoping to make this her full-time work.
“I hope this doesn’t sound arrogant, but I’m really gonna go for it,” the Washington native lesbian says. “I think I’ll be able to sustain myself. I can always temp if I need to, but I definitely want this to be my main focus.”
Working in a style she calls “hyper realist,” Oubre says she’s drawn to subjects that are damaged in some way.
“I’ve never been a horses, candy and flowers kind of girl,” she says. “I like broken, discarded things. There’s a darkness and melancholy to what I do. It’s not extreme. It’s not goth, but it’s a little sad, a little tender. It looks the way I feel and I’m kind of a sad girl.”
Oubre was outed by a girl she liked when she was 15, which made for a tough high school experience. And though they’re close now, her mother was initially disappointed when Oubre came out.
Oubre says she was always an odd duck growing up anyway, finding solace in Frank Sinatra and Humphrey Bogart while the other kids were into Britney.
“I was a loner, awkward — a bit of a weirdo,” she says.
Oubre quit her job doing administrative office work about a month ago. She admits she’s taking a chance but some health issues and knowing she was “tired of sitting at a computer doing other people’s work and being treated like crap” inspired her to delve more into her art. Find her online at ashleyoubre.com.
Despite the hand cramps, she says it’s therapeutic and “gives me such a release.” She’s entirely self taught.
Oubre is single and lives in Silver Spring, Md. In her free time, she enjoys jazz, reading, mythology, wine and reruns of “Nip/Tuck.”
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I’ve been out since the age of 14 and the hardest person to tell was definitely my mom.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Utopia — it’s my favorite jazz spot.
Describe your dream wedding.
Something intimate and sweet. I have always loved Italy; it’s probably one of my favorite places to travel. I would love a private ceremony in Tuscany.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
I am an empathist at heart, or so I’d like to think, so I’m passionate about any issue that provides a platform to the less fortunate or to the forgotten.
What historical outcome would you change?
Nothing specific; all atrocities, both singular, be that the assassination of a great leader, or the systematic acts of violence committed against an entire race or group of people, regardless of the reason.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
I have two: the discovery of Frank Sinatra and the passing of Michael Jackson.
On what do you insist?
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
‘Calls from Mayor’s office and Fox News about my show tonight! how cool is that?’
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Table for One”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
I’d be hopeful that the next discovery would be to change people’s orientation toward prejudice and hatred.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
That the ethereal fables of Greek, Roman and Nordic mythology all exist somewhere in a realm beyond our reach.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
The movement can be shaped by anyone and doesn’t reside solely with those who are currently spearheading it; anyone can be a leader.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
To eradicate suffering
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That you can’t be a “lipstick lesbian” in a relationship with the same “type.”
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Imagine Me and You.” Sigh!
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Trivial small talk and “going out for drinks” as the only means of getting to know someone, especially someone you fancy.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
Honestly, my graphite pencils.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That I would find genuinely kind people who would be good to me.
It’s my hometown!