For its 10-year anniversary, we are highlighting a few special members of the OpenDoors community. Larry Hopkins, who moved to Asheville in the mid-1990s, owns and operates ananda hair studio (22 Broadway St., Asheville) and its offshoot, ananda west (37 Paynes Way in the River Arts District). An avid supporter of the arts in WNC, Larry is also a longtime OpenDoors volunteer. Year-round, he serves on creative committees for Art Affair and gives generously valuable contributions of time, work, talent, and resources.
OD: How did you and OpenDoors meet?
LH: About six or seven years ago an artist friend of mine, Ben Betsalel, said “Hey, I’m going to this art auction and you’ll like it so come with me.” It was an Art Affair event at the Haywood Park Hotel.
OD: Were you already aware of OpenDoors?
No, I didn’t know anything about it. But I had known Jen Ramming [the Executive Director] and had lost touch with her for a while. I was reintroduced to Jen that night, and I remember listening to a kid who explained what a difference OpenDoors had made in his life.
OD: That inspired you to lend a hand?
LH: It immediately felt good to me. I could see the backbone of OpenDoors was people with a down-to-earth richness and authenticity you don’t always find. I started meeting some of the kids and it was really touching.
OD: Could you relate?
LH: I lived in a housing project until I was in 3rd grade. For a long time it was embarrassing for me and my sisters to talk about. So I can empathize in a way. It makes me feel grateful. But I cannot fathom the multiple challenges these kids face, and it took years for me to realize the scope and breadth of what OpenDoors does. The impact it has in people’s lives is amazing.
OD: How would you describe the OpenDoors community?
LH: It’s a group of energetically like-minded people who believe in the process of helping lift kids out of poverty. Everything OpenDoors does evolves in overlapping layers of community and people-to-people connections.
OD: What’s it like for you, volunteering for Art Affair?
LH: We’ll be up until two or three in the morning, getting delirious. But it’s one of my favorite times to hang out and connect and collaborate with a really cool group of artists and craftspeople. It’s about communities within communities that form a village that hopefully creates something bigger than all of us put together. To be part of that is a beautiful thing.
SAVE THE DATE: The 10th annual OpenDoors Art Affair happens March 9, 2019, at Ambrose West. Tickets go on sale mid-January at opendoorsasheville.org.