Behind the Curtain

The creative whizz-bang momentum of OpenDoors’ Art Affair usually starts around June, with visionary stylist Larry Hopkins, owner and founder of Asheville’s ananda hair studios, sketching concepts on a cocktail napkin with the OpenDoors creative team looking on. He’s saying something like, “I think the feel is… and the look could feature…” and from there, the annual early spring event picks up speed and gains clarity. Supporting artists at the table can’t help but jump in, like Jeremy Russell, Sean Catinella, Tom Kerr, Kisha Blount, and David and Leslie Humphrey, as they feel the collective energy and add to Larry’s imaginative fervor. Volunteer event chair, Dosty Quarrier, hurries to take notes and make plans for implementation – initially, it’s a puzzle with a purpose.

This early conceptual phrase, an image and some scribbled words on a craft cocktail napkin, quickly turns into the detailed plan for yet another multi-faceted gala celebration known as “Art Affair” where more than 100 artists, 400 patrons, and dozens of volunteering community members gather annually to demonstrate their shared commitment to the futures of hundreds of local kids in need. 

The relationship between Ananda and OpenDoors started at OpenDoors’ inception, eight years ago.  What began as a group of intermingled friends with shared interests grew into a symbiotic partnership fueled by the common goal of creating a sustainable future for kids. This mission is accomplished by way of a must-see-to-believe fundraising celebration featuring the best of Asheville’s visual art and culinary masters.  In Hopkins’ words, “To be a part of Art Affair has been such a gratifying experience over the years.  To watch and work with this extraordinary group of people for such a noble cause is really an honor.”

Here you see images of the “Behind the Scenes… Making of Art Affair 2017” as David Humphrey of Square Peg Construction and artist Sean Catinella build 3D graffiti sculptures, carve key words in burn barrels, and create theme specific metal sculpture for decor.  Larry and his highly skilled team of ananda downtown and ananda west stylists take fashion and styling to the next level for hostesses and art handlers.  Scott Allred and Jeremy Russell of Brushcan Murals donate their incredible painting talent to the cause, while another team of urban artists, coordinated by supporters Dustin Spagnola and Megan Kelly, and Splurge Gallery owner Robert Nicholas, make galvanized trashcans into avant-garde pendant light fixtures for decor and auction. 

In eight short years, Art Affair has become known for many things… art, fashion, surprises, and eye candy, to name a few.  We are also known for some serious fundraising passionately aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty with local kids.  This year the jaw-dropping total dollar amount raised was $184,731!  And what’s more astonishing is that all of this is accomplished with an incredibly small overhead of 13.28%, significantly below industry standards. These dollars raised provide access to tutoring, mentoring, sports, art programs and more for OpenDoors students, and in turn, hope for a sustainable future.

With much gratitude and celebration we thank our community of creative committee members, sponsors, volunteers, attendees, artists, and donors.  

Please save the date for Art Affair 2018– March 10!


Written by Jen Ramming and Nancy McClinton