Darkoski invites Street Art House visitors to embed themselves in art and refresh the soul

By Lisa Beebe

Darkoski’s “Illuminate” wants to put you in a Zen state of mind

A few years ago, the artist Darkoski (formerly known as Daniel Sun) was working as a project manager and creative director in Los Angeles. He liked his work, but dreamed of doing something with more personal meaning. When a friend from college told him about launching an artist collective in Goa, India, he decided to move there and focus on developing himself as an artist. After spending 15 months in India practicing his art and painting murals, he now only makes artworks under the name Darkoski.

“I’ve always been inspired by ancient cultures and deep spiritual cultures,” he says, “and I feel like a lot of the practices that I’ve implemented in my own life originated in India, like meditation and things like that.”

After his spiritual awakening, Darkoski returned to L.A. and now makes art for a living. His current project is an eight-week residency with Street Art House in Runway at Playa Vista. Mikey Meschures and Justin Fredericks co-founded Street Art House, a creative production company centered on visual arts and artists, about five years ago. They’re working with Runway Playa Vista to turn vacant retail spaces into open artists’ studios and bring more art programming into the community of Playa Vista. They feature artists whose work they believe is culturally relevant, and who are interested in engaging with the public not just through their art, but face-to-face.

“We essentially hand over the space as a blank canvas to a selected artist,” Meschures says. “The artist then turns walls into murals, canvas into paintings, objects into sculptures — and the general public can walk in and see the behind-the-scenes process of the artist’s work. It then culminates in a solo show for the artist that exhibits the work that they produce during the residency.”

Street Art House’s previous residencies have ranged in ambiance from an upscale gallery atmosphere to a gritty street art feel. Meschures says Darkoski’s solo show, “Illuminate,” which officially opens with a reception on Saturday, is completely different: “It’s much more inviting. There’s incense, there’s candles … it’s kind of got a yoga/spiritual vibe to it.”

Instead of a gallery chock-full of individual works, Darkoski wanted people to feel comfortable hanging out in the space, so he brought in couches, rugs, cushions, beanbags and even a custom-painted ping-pong table. “I wanted to take the space and create one massive piece of art that’s compiled from a bunch of smaller, different, beautiful, unique pieces of art,” he says.

Overall, the space reflects the calming, meditative patterns in his work, many of which contain positive messages.

“I have different alphabets that I use that I’ve sort of developed over the years, inspired by Egyptian hieroglyphics and Arabic texts and things like that,” he says. “A lot of times people will be drawn to the lettering, and they’ll ask, ‘Is this a certain language?’ or ‘What are you writing here?’ and then I explain that this is a language that I’ve made up on my own. I’ve got several different alphabets — in some of them I’m actually writing things, and sometimes I’m just doing abstract work.”

What kinds of messages does he include? To that Darkoski says, “I have a few that I write a lot, and one of them is aeterna lux solis. It’s a Latin translation of ‘eternal light from the sun.’”

Much of Darkoski’s recent work is about the presence of light, which is why he called his current show “Illuminate.” He’ll use metallic pens and metallic paints to bring a piece to life, and “when you walk by, it might change from a tan color to a blue color,” he says, “or when you see it in a certain light, it’s glowing.”

Darkoski is looking forward to sharing his completed installation with the public and hopes to host additional events in the space before the show closes on July 13.

“I feel like my art is a portal for me and that I can connect to the truth within me or within the universe,” he says. “There’s nothing that will make me happier than to be able to share that with other people through their own experience with my work.”

The opening reception for “Illuminate” is from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday (June 15) at Street Art House in Runway at Playa Vista (12746 W. Jefferson Boulevard, Unit 115, facing Runway Road). Free, but RSVP via eventbrite.com. Visit streetarthouse.com or darkoski.com.