Know Your Street Art: Untitled (1 Colusa Place)

(Photo by Jonathan Curiel)

They’re there — the clues within Jared Costa’s street art that tell passersby this is a Jared Costa piece. Or, rather, a piece by “Geso.” That’s the name Costa goes by on public walls like the one at 1 Colusa Place, where in May he smeared the waves of circles and tangles that are a visual orchestra of turquoise, magenta, yellow, and other standout colors. Costa has done with his name what Monet did to water lilies: He makes it magical. And not just to avid art-goers, but to people with little art training.

Four years ago, Costa was one of the artists invited to paint what is now designer Yves Behar’s Potrero Hill building. Costa has since put his work around San Francisco, where he lives. (In July, a fancy furniture store on Valencia between 16th and 17th streets commissioned him to do a Geso-themed panorama on its outside wall.) But unlike many other street artists, Costa never signs his work in an obvious way.

“It’s just like multiple tags of my names in a pattern,” Costa tells SF Weekly. “People always see huge nasty tags on a building and get upset. But when you try to combine a tag with art, then people like it.”

A sign of the Costa’s success: Other street artists are now copying his new style. Costa, who is in his late 30s, says he has been doing graffiti for 23 years, and been arrested many times for illegal tagging. Under his given name, he exhibits in galleries — mainly abstract work. But it’s his artistic tagging that is changing his life. Until three months ago, Costa made his primary living by selling mid-century furniture.

“Now,” he says, “I can live off the art. Everyone wants the tag stuff. Everyone.”

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