San Francisco Art Spotting: Eddie Colla

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This week, GayCities takes you beyond the museum and down the city’s alley ways and unexplored sidewalks for an insider’s look at the queer artists who’ve made San Francisco their ultimate canvas.

With several subjects wearing surgical masks, Oakland artist Eddie Colla evokes a post-apocalyptic near future, yet the message is one of hope among the dust. He employs this subversive outlook in his queer-themed work as well, a sort of riot-starter mentality the gay rights movement could embrace.

In the midst of the Prop 8 debacle, Eddie stood up against hate by creating the poster pictured (above), which can be found on Linden Alley in Hayes Valley. Various other duplicate copies in the form of stickers and banners spread his message at a vital point in the history of California’s gay rights movement.

More recently, during SF Pride, Eddie stenciled the popular phrase, “We’re Here, We’re Queer,” on sidewalks with arrows directing visitors to Civic Center plaza, where the Pride festivities take place each year.

Eddie draws inspiration from grimy urban environments, of which San Francisco has plenty, such as the Stockton Street tunnel. “Yeah, it smells like piss, but the sound and the light at night are amazing,” he told us.

His popular quote, “If you want to achieve greatness, stop asking for permission,” has made it’s way out to more well-lit places, even the city’s STOP signs. Consider it a kick-ass version of “It Gets Better,” yet equally inspirational.

Another popular work featured everyone’s favorite soccer mom turned hate monger, Sarah Palin. Her image was placed next to the words, “enrage them with fear until they are justified in their violence.” Sounds like Sarah, no? Well, that was just Eddie getting the gist of the Alaskan Governor. He eventually changed the phrasing to reflect a quote actually uttered by Palin, “Lovers of America: don’t retreat, instead – reload!” Far less eloquent, yes, but just as scary.

Right now, you can check out Eddie’s work at both DOSA locations and at CandyBar.

Click on the next page to see photos of his work inside those establishments, plus photos of the “We’re Queer” arrows on the streets, the “Achieve Greatness” quote, and Sarah Palin’s fear tactics.

Photos courtesy of Eddie Colla