A contemporary art gallery has joined the restaurants, health centers, shops and grocery store in the Sandy Springs City Walk complex.

Dakoro Edwards, a 42-year-old Sandy Springs resident, celebrated the grand opening of his Dakoro Art Gallery on July 28. It is filled with his abstract works and portraits meant to inspire and promote positivity. His favorite work, “Today A Slave,” which depicts a woman freed from bondage in 2010, stands proudly at the front. Pieces painted recently are displayed on the wall, and each one tells a visual story of perseverance, dedication and hard work.

Dakoro Edwards, who goes by his first name, has opened a contemporary art gallery in City Walk in Sandy Springs. (Photo Jaclyn Turner)

“I like the diversity, the energy of the city,” Dakoro—who goes by his first name only—said of his moving to Sandy Springs from Syracuse, N.Y., a number of years ago. “It just feels like a good spot. There really hasn’t been a space like this in Sandy Springs, and from what I understand, it’s very welcome.”

“The sun just shines differently down [here],” Dakoro said. “I like the pace of Atlanta; you can create your own pace. You can be relaxed if you want, be high energy.”

The original vision of City Walk was to be a multi-use development for living, working and play, and the addition of the art gallery might just fulfill that cultural purpose among all the retail.

Dakoro’s painted steadily since the age of 5. He credits his most formal art training to his 6th grade art teacher. “He just influenced a freestyle type of creativity. Even in art classes, I didn’t have to do much of what the other students were doing, but my art came from a different place,” he reminisced.

Before taking his passion full time, Dakoro spent his youth playing basketball and working as a master barber.

Dakoro emerged onto the Atlanta art scene in 2012 when he came in first place for a local competition from the RAW artists network.

Dakoro with one of his paintings. (Photo Jaclyn Turner)

But 2016 has been the shining year for Dakoro. He said he has been commissioned to paint a mural with the theme “Stronger Together” at Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s Atlanta campaign office in Castleberry Hill, which will be completed by Aug. 20.

Dakoro is a swift painter, creating his works with large, fluid strokes. His work is often marked by vivid colors and portraits with piercing eyes, which symbolize the viewer looking at the art and the art looking back at the viewer.

“If you see something immediately, that’s what I want you to see,” Dakoro said of his style. “There’s always something behind it.”

He completed his portrait of musician David Bowie in as little as 20 minutes for a live audience, a way he enjoys showing off his craft. At his new gallery Aug. 10, an opera singer performed while he painted a portrait of a woman in front of a skyline.

“It was just so beautiful in here,” he said of the event and his grand opening celebration. “You had all ethnicities, status levels— everyone brought a great energy in here and had a great time.”

The interior of Dakoro Art Gallery. (Photo Jaclyn Turner)

“I’m kind of a motivator. I look at the bright side of things,” he said. “I really try to promote a lot of positivity, achieving goals and paying it forward. There’s a lot of people that all they need is a helping hand to get over an obstacle, and that is what my art does.

“Art is like a bridge, a bonding glue. It’s beautiful about how it brings people together. I want [the gallery] to represent a unity,” he said.

Dakoro Art Gallery

227 Sandy Springs Place NE
Suite 522
Sandy Springs, 30328

Tuesday: By Appointment
Wednesday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

–Jaclyn Turner