DUNWOODY, Ga. — As Dunwoody residents drive or walk around town these days, they may see the city’s unofficial motto, “Everything Will Be OK,” pop up in new places.
The Spruill Center for the Arts, in partnership with Create Dunwoody and Custom Signs Today, is selling yard signs of the iconic mural, with proceeds going to help artists impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hey Dunwoody, Everything will be Ok. Signs are about to be posted in my hood. pic.twitter.com/dSXuWnznJL— John Heneghan (@dunwoodynorth) March 28, 2020
The idea came from the minds of the Spruill Center’s new CEO Alan Mothner and Custom Signs Owner Heyward Wescott. Mothner said he ran into his friend on a run, and their conversation turned to how the “Everything Will Be OK” phrase and image had become a message of hope in the face of a pandemic.
“We had the idea: What if we replicated the message in yard signs so people could bring that message home with them and at the same do some good in the community and raise some money?” Mothner said.
Mothner credited Create Dunwoody President Lorna Sherwinter for making the initiative possible. Signs can be purchased through createdunwoody.org for $20. For each sale, $15 will go to a fund established by Create Dunwoody to help artists. Artists can apply for assistance at the same website.
“Artists aren’t able to work right now because galleries are closed and they’re unable to teach,” Mothner explained.
He said he has been “overwhelmed” by the response. In the first week, they raised $30,000 and sold well over a thousand sings. By March 28, they surpassed 2,000 signs, bringing the total to $40,000.
“The outpouring of positive responses that we’ve got from the public has been amazing,” Mothner said. “The message and the cause and the idea behind this is obviously resonating with people beyond Dunwoody.”
The project has attracted national and even international attention, with CNN, Good Morning America and the UK’s The Daily Mail sharing the story.
For now, the arts group is focused on fulfilling local orders. For addresses in Dunwoody zip codes, volunteers will deliver and install the sign while following social distancing recommendations.
Last week, the Spruill Center announced it would remain closed and postpone classes until May 18. As of last update, the center is still accepting registrations for summer camp and other classes and workshops that would take place after that date. The center employs over 100 people and serves over 5,000 students each year.
“It’s been really challenging for us as an organization,” Mothner said. “Before the pandemic was so widespread, we were still holding classes. The students were thankful they could come and create, take their minds off of things and engage with their peers. Having that loss has been challenging for everyone.”
Mothner said the arts center is looking for ways to offer online classes and to continue to serve the community through trying times.
“We’re here for the long haul,” he said. “We’re going to be here when this is over. Art is something that connects us all. It touches the soul. We’re going to help spread joy and love through art as long as we can.”
The “Everything Will Be OK” mural was created by local artist Jason Kofke and erected at the Spruill Gallery on Ashford Dunwoody Road for an Emerging Artists exhibit in 2009. Placed on the Smokehouse, a log cabin-like structure that dates back to 1840 when the land was a farm, the mural was visible to thousands of drivers who commute through Perimeter Center each day.
The Kofke piece was never designed as a permanent installation and when the wood began to deteriorate, it was replaced by another artist’s work. By that time, it had become a symbol of hope for countless Dunwoody residents.
Early in 2011, the Spruill Gallery received a call from an engaged couple looking for the artwork. The message had helped them through difficult moments of their relationship, and they wished to have their engagement photos taken with the mural.
In the few hours that the piece was leaned against the Smokehouse for the shoot, the Spruill Center received dozens of calls rejoicing in its return. A recreation of the original mural was installed and the message has become an unofficial motto for the city.
The image has appeared on T-shirts, magnets, postcards, pop sockets, stress balls, coffee mugs, dish towels and more. As the coronavirus outbreak worsened, the Dunwoody Police Department even put the slogan on traffic signs.
For a list of how other local nonprofits and businesses have been impacted and how you can help, visit DiscoverDunwoody.com/articles/post/discovering-dunwoody-distancing.