'The Dissidents, the Displaced and the Outliers’: Left out in S.F.

By Kimberly Chun  

Published 6:34 pm, Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Photo: Courtesy Of The Artist

Local duo COLL.EO shows “A New American Dream,” a 2014 set of framed digital prints of images from Google Street View.



How do you solve a puzzle like San Francisco — a city in flux, planted in a bedrock of Left Coast values and a shifting landfill of artisanal comestibles and messenger-bag boutiques?

Bay Area artists Colleen Flaherty and Matteo Bittanti — working, and playing, under the collaborative moniker of COLL.EO — are game to try. For “A New American Dream” and “City Blocks,” the collaborators turned images sourced from Google Street View of the homeless on San Francisco streets into picture-postcard-like prints and a child’s toy while reframing and pointing to the oft-seen-but-seldom-foregrounded sights of the city.

The views are further complicated as the pair turn the lens around with a self-mocking “artist statement,” stating, in persona, “I am giving visibility to invisible individuals and that makes me feel good. Look! These people camp on the sidewalk. They have tents and carts. They are a new metropolitan tribe. … All these images truly resonate with me and with my upbringing.”

“A New American Dream” and “City Blocks” appear alongside pieces by Bay Area artists such as Eliza BarriosLeslie Dreyer and Tom Loughlin in “The Dissidents, the Displaced and the Outliers,” a transbay group show curated by Dorothy Santos. The San Francisco-born critic organized the exhibit around ideas of privacy, surveillance and gentrification by her cohort at the Bay Area Society For Art & Activism: artist Elizabeth Travelsight. The latter’s “security blankets” quilted of materials like bulletproof fabric also appear in the show.

When Travelsight first proposed the concept, Santos, 36, confesses, “My gut reaction was, that’s a challenging thing.

“I think when people think of privacy, surveillance and gentrification, a lot of them will have an understanding that this show is about x, y and z,” she continues. “I had to think creatively around this, to find artists that pair well and provoke a conversation among viewers.”

Santos says she attempted to push boundaries and kick off conversation by selecting pieces like the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, an online data visualization, data analysis and digital storytelling documentation of Bay Area gentrification.

“It’s at the nexus of art, design and technology,” says Santos of the site, known for its crowd-sourced maps of displacement and a dramatic time-lapse visualization of Ellis Act evictions. “I think there’s something deep and provocative if you’re using technology to create something sensitive that a lot of people don’t like talking about? It creates talk about what do art and activism look like?”

Apparently, it looks a lot like the viewers—and the makers, as onetime California College of the Arts adjunct professor Bittanti relates his own experiences with displacement. “Aren’t we all outliers,” he says by e-mail, “in an age of neoliberalism and technological determinism?”

Kimberly Chun crisscrosses the East Bay. E-mail: 96hours@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @kimberlychun

If you go

The Dissidents, the Displaced and the Outliers: Random Parts opening reception: 4-8 p.m. Saturday, May 2. Through June 5. By appointment only. Random Parts, 1206 13th Ave., Oakland. (510) 415-8791. www.randomparts.org. Incline Gallery opening reception: 5-9 p.m. May 16. Through June 19. Gallery hours 6-9 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 1-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Incline Gallery, 766 Valencia St., S.F. www.inclinegallerysf.com.


COLL.EO is involved in two art events at 12th Havana Biennial in Havana, Cuba.

Today we are announcing the first, entitled...


Casa De Cultura De Guanabacoa, Cuba

Collateral exhibition to the 12th Havana Biennial

May 26 – June 22, 2015


Opening reception: Tuesday, May 26, 6:00 – 10:00 pm

with live performance by Sriba Kwadjovie


Brigada Roja/Nelson Enriquez & Rebekah Olstad

Bernardo Palau

Carlo Ricafort


Juan Carlos Quintana



There are nebulous horizons playing tricks on us by promising the illusion of change while simultaneously defending the interest of the status quo.  There is no sea or land that separate or unite us; there are only desires.  We are all in a mirage longing for something tangible which becomes intangible when viewed upon the prism of expectations.  The unlikelihood of possible alternatives will become clear as subversive practices are recognized for what they really are: hegemonic lollipops - as harmless as tooth decay and bad breath - yet can lead to heart failure.


A tientas, como perdidos en la niebla vamos engañándonos a nosotros mismos. Por la ilusión, por ese posible cambio venidero que al mismo tiempo nos deja perdidos en la ensoñación (y el estatus quo). Realmente ni los mares, ni las fronteras nos unen o separan; el deseo es lo único que existe. Todos estamos inmersos en un espejismo, deseando, esperando por algo tangible que al mismo tiempo se vuelve inasible cuando lo vemos a través del cristal de las expectativas. La improbabilidad de cualquier otra alternativa se pone de manifiesto cuando reconocemos el verdadero valor de cualquier "acto subversivo"; al final solo parecen caramelos hegemónicos tan innocuos como un dolor de muelas.  



COLLEEN FLAHERTY. SELECTED WORKS 2012-2015 is a compendium of Colleen Flaherty' paintings produced in the last three years.

A visual artist trained as a painter and a sculptor, Flaherty uses her craft and woodworking skills to create works that invite the viewer to engage with art in a tactile, tangible way. She received her M.F.A. in Painting from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2002 and her B.F.A. Cum Laude, with emphasis in Painting and Drawing, Minor in Music from San Jose State University in 1999. Her work has been presented in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Montevideo, Uruguay, and Pienza, Italy. In 2012 she started COLL.EO with Matteo Bittanti. Co-founder of Random Parts, an artist run space in Oakland, Flaherty lives and works in Northern California.

The publication of this catalog coincides with Colleen Flaherty's solo show PATTERN RECOGNITION (February 21- March 18, 2015) at Random Parts in Oakland.


Colleen Flaherty's website.



Year of publication: 2015

Format: Magazine, 8.5 × 11 in. (22 × 28 cm), premium quality paper

Pages: 48

Price: $19.99

ISBN: 9781320935395



R A N D O M  P A R T S  1 2 0 6  1 3 T H  A V E . O A K L A N D,  C A  9 4 6 0 6  

Colleen Flaherty, a thinly veiled threat and Mother/Board, oil, acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 60" x 80" each piece, 2015



February 21- March 18, 2015

Opening reception: Saturday, February 21, 2015  3:00 - 7:00pm  Acoustic music set with the band, Uncle at 4:30pm

Random Parts is pleased to present a solo exhibition with Colleen Flaherty.

In the seminal Understanding Media. The Extensions of Man (1964), Canadian media scholar Marshall McLuhan stated that “An abstract painting represents direct manifestation of creative thought processes as they might appear in computer designs.” In PATTERN RECOGNITION, Colleen Flaherty’s creative thought process is made visible for the viewer.  Acting as a juncture between the machinic and the natural, the archaic and the modern, she acts as a radar, a warning system. “The serious artist - adds McLuhan - is the only person able to encounter technology with impunity, just because [she] is an expert aware of the changes in sense perception”. The inorganic is thus unmasked, unpacked: behind the screen lies a microprocessor. But chips are made of silicon, that is, sand: under the technical, lies the natural. Sand snakes leave traces and Flaherty has captured them all: lines of codes, curves, layers of information. 

Technological tools incessantly reshape our world. They also redefine what it means to be human. The artist is a vigilant sentinel, because unlike others, she is immune to their subtle effects. According to McLuhan, “No society has ever known enough about its actions to have developed immunity to its new extensions or technologies. Today we have begun to sense that art may be able to provide such immunity.” What Flaherty does in her latest works is “to pick messages of cultural and technological challenge decades before its transforming impact occurs.” As such, she is a woman of “integral awareness”, one who can visualize the technical through the artist gesture.  

 Flaherty’s intuitive yet highly sophisticated use of abstraction comes at no surprise. As McLuhan noted, abstract art “offers a central nervous system for a work of art, rather than the conventional husk of the old pictorial image.” PATTERN RECOGNITION is a set of maps of the contemporary visual age dominated by circuit boards. These paintings form the cartography of a new territory, both inner and outer. These paintings are not symptoms, but offer a diagnosis, a verdict. “Just as higher education is no longer a frill or luxury but a stark need of production and operational design in the electric age, so the artist is indispensable in the shaping and analysis and understanding of the life of forms, and structures created by electric technology.” 

 Flaherty's canvas is a framing device: screens and windows are transformed, and so are their values, purposes, and meanings. The Technical and the Natural. A new visual language for a new kind of viewer. Patterns await recognition. 

 A visual artist trained as a painter and a sculptor, Flaherty uses her craft and woodworking skills to create works that invite the viewer to engage with art in a tactile, tangible way. She received her M.F.A. in Painting from the San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco in 2002 and her B.F.A. Cum Laude, with emphasis in Painting and Drawing, Minor in Music from San Jose State University, San Jose, California in 1998. Her work has been presented in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Montevideo, Uruguay, and Pienza, Italy. In 2012 she started COLL.EO,  with Matteo Bittanti. Co-founder of Random Parts, an artist run space in Oakland, California, Flaherty lives in Northern California.




Colleen Flaherty, operating in the air, oil and spray paint on canvas, 22" x 60", 2015


We are delighted to announce that The Streetviews of San Francisco (2014) is featured by BOOM. A Journal of California published by the University of California Press. The Summer 2014 issue asks "What's the matter with San Francisco?" Rebecca Solnit, David Lee, Rian Dundon, Rachel Brahinsky, Kristin Miller, Mark Hogan, Leah Reich, Annie Powers, Chris Carlsson, Celia and Peter Wiley and Stamen Design provide some answers, while Editor-in-Chief Jon Christensen and Managing Editor Eve Bachrach, play the role of the moderators. [The full table of contents is availablehere and the list of contributors can be found here].

What’s the matter with San Francisco is in many ways what’s the matter with our increasingly urban world. The challenges of inequality, mobility, livable wages, and affordable housing are cosmopolitan challenges, as are tensions between technology and culture. The new Argonauts, who take the wealth, skills, and connections forged in this new California gold rush to burgeoning cities experiencing tech-fueled growing pains in India and China and other countries, will also take the lessons we learn in the coming years with them, for better or worse. (Jon Christensen)

According to Rebecca Solnit, San Francisco is an "imperiled city" while Mark Hogan argues that the City must accept a radical change if it wants to survive. Meanwhile, Rachel Brahinsky concludes that "Reports of San Francisco's demise have been greatly exaggerated". 

Google Mooning graces the cover of BOOM, while other layouts highlight both the ongoing fictions and frictions of the city formerly known as Baghdad on the Bay.

The new issue of BOOM will be officially unveiled next week. Here is a sneak preview:

Make Games that Matter

On June 16, 2014, COLL.EO was invited to participate to an international workshop on GAMING, ART, AND CULTURE in Siena, Italy organized by Professor Pier Luigi Sacco and Nicola Tripet. The event took place in the Bibliotechina of Santa Maria della Scala, located in Piazza del Duomo, a truly outstanding venue.

The full presentation (text + images) is    available here   .

The full presentation (text + images) is available here.