Dunwoody arts center, artist come to agreement over sale of yard signs

The yard signs on Create Dunwoody’s website.
The yard signs on Create Dunwoody’s website.

It looks like “Everything Will Be OK” after all.

A Dunwoody arts center is now working with the artist behind the iconic “Everything Will Be OK” mural to sell yard signs and benefit struggling artists during the coronavirus pandemic. Jason Kofke, who created the original mural at the Spruill Center for the Arts in 2009, previously expressed frustration that the center was selling replicas of his artwork without directly involving him.

Moving forward, Kofke and the Spruill center will work together to sell the yard signs, with proceeds going to local artists who have been hit financially because of the virus.

Kofke had previously hired a lawyer and sent the arts center a cease-and-desist letter to stop them from selling more copies of the mural, which was slightly altered from his original mural design, he said.

Kofke said he has had conversations with Spruill CEO Alan Mothner, and they came to an agreement for Kofke to receive some licensing fees for previous use of the artwork. Any future signs sold will also use Kofke’s original design.

The "Everything will be OK" yard signs have popped up around metro Atlanta over the past month.
The "Everything will be OK" yard signs have popped up around metro Atlanta over the past month.

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

“We are humbled by the outpouring of support for Jason’s message in this time of need and thrilled to be able to continue to show the power of art to bring us all together,” Mothner said in a statement Thursday.

Create Dunwoody, an organization that supports the arts in Dunwoody, has been selling the yard signs with the Spruill Center for several weeks. Its website now says the effort is "in collaboration with" Kofke.

The campaign, which began several weeks ago, has raised more than $40,000 for local artists who have been hurt financially by the pandemic, and has been featured on CNN and "Good Morning America." The signs are for sale on Create Dunwoody's website and Kofke's site.

Kofke, who studied at the Savannah College of Art and Design and now lives in Atlanta, has been showcasing the “Everything Will Be OK” public art project for more than a decade, posting the message around the U.S. and abroad, including China, Japan and Russia. He posted the original mural on the side of an old smokehouse on the Spruill grounds in 2009 as part of the gallery’s “Emerging Artists” exhibit.

Located at the corner of Ashford Dunwoody Road and Meadow Lane, the original sign was taken down at one point, but “an outcry from the public called for the sign’s permanent return,” the Spruill Gallery said on its website. The current display is a replica. Kofke, 41, said he did not know the replica was put up until about a year later.

He said Friday that it was productive to have a public discussion about “what is art and what isn’t.” The talks have been “a good example of all of us learning a little bit about that in a public way,” Kofke said.

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