Next to the Hocking River and down West Union Street, on the right hand side of the road, lies the resemblance of a drive-in movie theater mural. With ice cream cones, hot dogs and hamburgers waving customers through the drive-thru line, the new and freshly painted mural at Larry’s Dawg House, 410 W Union St., stands in support of childhood cancer awareness.
The idea for a mural has always been in the back of the restaurants’ mind. With the perfect visibility from the road, it finally became a reality when the current owner and general manager of Larry’s Dawg House collaborated with Passion Works Art Studio, a community space with the goal to give people with developmental differences an artistic platform.
Passion Works, 20 E. State St., has a long-standing reputation and foothold in the rich culture and art of Athens. One of the ways Passion Works gets involved in the community is its involvement with cancer awareness and Turn it Gold.
Turn it Gold is a non-profit organization with the mission to fight childhood cancer by finding and accelerating a cure for the disease. Money raised by Turn it Gold goes to funding childhood cancer research.
Known for its flower, Passion Works has dedicated a whole line of flowers and other various products to Turn it Gold, with the sales going back to its cancer awareness mission.
Larry’s Dawg House is also giving a percentage of its profits to support cancer awareness.
Ashley King, one of the managers at Larry’s Dawg House, said one of the factors that motivated the business’ decision to support cancer awareness involves a personal experience with a current employee recently diagnosed with stomach cancer.
“She’s currently going through some chemotherapy herself,” King said. “I don’t want to say that made our decision, but that definitely helped us feel deep down that this is something important that we want to be involved in. It was a really great opportunity that we were able to be part of Turn it Gold.”
The mural itself is just another way Passion Works Studio and Larry’s Dawg House are supporting childhood cancer awareness and the community.
Passion Works artists began working on the piece roughly a month ago and finished the piece just a few weeks ago.
As the mural runs right through the drive-thru, King said finding time to paint wasn’t all that easy. Oftentimes, Passion Works artists would come on nights or weekdays to paint.
“They were really cool about working around our schedule because it’s directly through the drive-thru,” King said. “It was very worrisome about how it was going to go down, but they were super cool with working with us while they’re working (on the mural).”
The concept of the mural goes along with the theme of Larry’s Dawg House and the food it serves. The piece includes various food items sold at the restaurant, like ice cream cones, hamburgers, hot dogs, condiments, fries, etc.
Along with following the theme of the restaurant, artists incorporated Turn it Gold ribbons and other childhood cancer awareness art.
“We came up with it because there’s hot dogs and hamburgers and milkshakes at the Dawg House; the ideas for the images came from the menu,” Nancy Epling, studio artist and manager for Passion Works, said. “The purpose of the mural was to raise awareness for the Turn it Gold initiative, childhood cancer awareness. The penguins that are in the mural were also drawn by a student who actually passed away from childhood cancer.”
The mural isn’t the first time the community has come together to support Turn it Gold and its mission
For the past six years, The Barbara Geralds Institute for Storytelling and Social Impact and Ohio University Athletics have partnered with Turn it Gold to recognize Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September.
In September 2020, the OU football, soccer and volleyball teams collaborated with Passion Works artists to paint a mural across from Passion Works Art Studio.
Like previous murals before, the Dawg House mural was the result of many different artists at Passion Works. On different days, different artists would show up and continue working on pieces from the previous day.
Michelle Conroy, a Passion Works artist, painted parts of the hamburger and ice cream cone while Noah Hogan, another Passion Works artist, worked on the cone of the ice cream cone.
Conroy said the mural painting at Larry’s Dawg House was art-inclusive.
“It was a great way to bring the artists together, and everybody in the studio was able to get involved,” Conroy said.
On Nov. 18 at 5:30 p.m. Larry’s Dawg House will have a ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the new mural and recognizing cancer survivors in the Athens community. OU athletes will be present at the ceremony to support, in accordance with their cancer awareness initiative in September. Larry’s Dawg House and Turn it Gold merchandise will also be given out at the ceremony.
“It’s going to be a nice event that people can come to show their support in the community and to officially see the finished mural,” King said. “I know (the artists are) very excited to reveal the final finished product to the community.”