It’s official: The historic Hopkins Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church on the edge of downtown Asheville won’t be torn down. Thanks to a major grant from the Janirve Foundation, the old church will soon be looking, if not as good as new, then at least pretty nice.

After 80 years of serving as the primary place of worship for the second-oldest African-American congregation in Asheville, the venerable house of worship was declared unsafe in 1995, due to structural deterioration. The congregation was forced out, and the church’s trustees even voted to demolish the building and erect a new one.

But when one of the architects at Padgett & Freeman saw that much of the church could, in fact, be preserved, emergency measures were taken to address the immediate structural concerns, until more money could be raised. A historic-preservation consulting team was brought in, and more than $50,000 was spent to remove and store the stained-glass windows, temporarily stabilize the structure, and make emergency repairs.

More recently, the Janirve Foundation approved a $180,000 grant request — submitted jointly by the Hopkins Chapel and the Preservation Society — to restore the exterior and stabilize the structure. That will complete the major structural repairs, ensuring the building’s long-term survival.

That’s not to say, though, that the members of the Hopkins Chapel Restoration Committee wouldn’t be happy to receive additional donations, to help with the remaining work.

To learn more about the historic church, call Restoration Committee Chairman Richard Shaw at 684-3119. Send donations to: Hopkins Chapel A.M.E. Zion Preservation, P.O. Box 4021, Asheville, NC 28805.

501(c)3 status can B good 4 U

It’s official: The Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods — a.k.a. CAN — has been awarded tax-exempt status. That will help the group, which has represented the interests of city neighborhoods since 1985, carry out its mission: educating and informing the Asheville community about neighborhood issues, helping neighborhood groups share information, and providing technical assistance to groups and individuals who want to participate in and help shape community affairs.

“The tax-exempt status now allows us to pursue new funding possibilities for CAN to realize [our] mission,” said CAN President Brian Peterson in a recent news release. “Asheville can now look forward to increased training opportunities and other means to support neighborhoods and build individual capacity, allowing our citizens to play a more significant and responsible role in the future decisions affecting their neighborhoods and Asheville.”

CAN’s next monthly meeting, which will focus on the I-26 Connector project, will be held on Monday, Jan. 25 at 7:30 p.m., in Trinity Episcopal Church on Church Street. Asheville Transportation Planner Ron Fuller has been invited to make a presentation on the project, outline the timetable, and answer questions. Maps will be displayed, to give people a better idea of the different options for the project.

For details, contact Ron Katz at 254-0728.

Local heroes

If you had any doubt about the caliber of local talent here in Asheville, consider these recent developments, involving three area residents who have seen their hard work and artistic endeavors really pay off:

First, local wunderkind Joshua P. Warren, whose film Inbred Rednecks was much talked about in these parts last year, has won a prestigious national award. Competing against more than 50 other indie films, Warren’s opus took the top prize in Hollywood Online’s “Beneath the Surface” Underground Film Challenge, prompting critic Jim Bartoo to comment that the film “features all the qualities that make a great super-indie film.”

Shot around town by a local cast and crew, Rednecks follows a group of “Southern bumpkins” who seek fame and fortune in the glamorous world of cockfighting. Called “unflinchingly funny” by Bartoo, the film will now be the recipient, courtesy of Hollywood Online, of an upgraded marketing campaign. Maybe that will make more people aware of writer/actor/composer/filmmaker Warren’s enormous gifts — both his singular, uncompromising artistic vision, and the drive and persistence that it takes to get a project like this one off the ground.

Meanwhile, another local artist, David Holt, was recently nominated for an award … a curious little honor you may have heard of, called the Grammies. Nominated for Best Spoken Word Album — Holt’s Spiders in the Hairdo: Modern Urban Legends is a collection of “folklore for modern folk,” according to an Upstream Productions press release. That puts Holt in some pretty impressive company: His fellow nominees included Toni Morrison (for Beloved), Christopher Reeve (for Still Me), Jimmy Carter (for The Virtues of Aging), and Garrison Keillor (for Wobegon Boy).

Holt — who snared a Grammy in 1996 for his adaptation of the popular children’s story Stellaluna — wrote and narrated the piece, using the talents of Bill Mooney and jazz-piano great Dick Hyman. The album was then engineered at Asheville’s Upstream Productions, and released by the local label High Windy Audio.

Not to be outdone is local artist and entrepreneur Connie Bostic, whose “Man Thinking #3,” an oil on paper, has been accepted into the international juried exhibition “Face to Face,” at the Stage Gallery in Merrick, N.Y. Only 34 works were chosen, out of the 1,185 submitted. Under the broad theme of “faces,” the exhibit includes portraits, self-portraits, human and animal faces in such wide-ranging media as painting and drawing, computer art, gold-leafed/vacuum-formed plastic, and even holograms. The juried show will run through Jan. 24, 1999.

For more information about “Inbred Rednecks,” call 253-7736, or see Warren’s Web page at To learn more about Holt’s Spiders in the Hairdo: Modern Urban Legends, call 258-9727, or e-mail For more on The Stage Gallery’s show, call (516) 623-3504, or call Bostic at Zone one contemporary, 258-3088.

No one wins unless everybody does

Another local presence, the Claxton Elementary School of Arts and Humanities, is also in the spotlight — having been recognized under the Governor’s Programs for Excellence in Education for 1998.

Long recognized for incorporating the arts into its core curriculum in innovative ways, the school routinely produces students who score high in state testing. But the award really belongs to the “team effort” made by the extended network of parents, students, teachers and other school staff, says Claxton’s Deborah Sizemore. Both she and Principal Rob Weinkle were delighted and honored at receiving the award, which signals “the statewide appreciation of Claxton’s leadership in high-quality educational techniques,” according to a Claxton media release.

For more information about Claxton School, call Sizemore at 255-5601.

It’s that time of year again

The IRS must know how much fun it is to do your taxes. In an apparent attempt to make life a little easier, they’re offering help with filling out tax returns, through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.

The service is available locally at two convenient locations — the conference room of the United Way Building (50 S. French Broad Avenue) and St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church (919 Haywood Road) — providing free help with basic tax returns, particularly for low- and fixed-income people, individuals with disabilities, non-English speaking and elderly tax-payers. All you need are this year’s tax forms; information about your income, deductions and credits; and a copy of last year’s tax returns. The program will run on the following Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Feb. 6, 13, 20, and 27; March 6 and 27; and April 3 and 10.

To learn more, call Ed Pickard at 271-4721, ext. 109.

— caudally compiled by Paul Schattel

About Webmaster
Mountain Xpress Webmaster Follow me @MXWebTeam

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.