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U of L art grads return with Bridges to Casa

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A group of old friends and classmates from the University of Lethbridge reunited for  the latest exhibit at Casa, Bridge: A Group Exhibition, which runs Jan. 9-Feb. 26.George Ho, Yoko Takashima and Robert Bechtel are part of bridges; A group Exhibit at Casa. Photo by Richard Amery
Izmer Ahmad, George Ho, Yoko Takashima and Robert Bechtel were University of Lethbridge art students in the early ’90s and went their separate ways, until Hong Kong born, Victoria based artist George Ho contacted Lethbridge based painter Robert Bechtel about reuniting the old gang for an exhibit. The only artist unable to attend the opening is Malaysia based Izmer Ahmad who is teaching at the University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.
“It’s something we’ve been working on for a while,” said Bechtel, noting they were looking for a venue even before Casa was built, and when it was, they found their venue.

“They all went to school together in at the U of L in the early ’90s, some moved to other locations and some stayed. This brings them back to where they started,” said Casa curator Darcy Logan.
“It brings people from diverse cultural backgrounds back to to our community,” he continued.
 The exhibit combines some of the works they did as students as well as more modern works which incorporate a range of styles and techniques includiing multi-media, painting and sculpture.

Japan born, Victoria based artist Yoko Takashima’s multi-media piece features mashups of  38 different people singing Simon and Garfunkel’s hit “ Bridge over Troubled Water,” in front of a background film of various images ranging from  serene oceanic scenes to atomic bomb explosions.
“It’s a self generating video of the 38 singers singing ‘Bridge over Troubled Water.’ It chooses eight of them randomly to make a choir. So the combination is different every time,” Takashima described.
 A friend of hers created the algorithm Max MSB used  to choose the different singers.

 She noted the song, in addition to being a great song, reflected the theme of the exhibit.
“The bridge is so important in Lethbridge. Art is the bridge that brought us together,” Takashima said, who was at the U of L from 1989-93.
“For me, the lyrics are uplifting. They are about about love, friendship and support,” she said also they reflect the chaotic state of the world, which is why they sing in front of images of rain storms and explosions and disasters.


 Bechtel was pleased to get  the show on the road when  Ho contacted him with the idea.
“We grew up together as artists,” he said.

“But you can still see some of the themes we are still working with,” he said indicating their earlier works.
“We studied together 20 years ago and we’re from different parts of the world,”said George Ho, installing his 3D printed sculpture of a stack of skulls.
“ It’s complicated. At a very young age, I experienced death. I’ve known a lot of family and friends who have died, ” Ho said, noting his centrepiece took him six months to create. He has been working with 3D printing technology for two years.

“I like how our work has evolved in a more mature way,” he observed.
Bechtel’s paintings continue to explore surrealism and expressionism.
“ It is interesting how we’ve all changed,” he observed.
Bridges: A Group Exhibit runs at Casa until  Feb. 26.

A version of this story appears in the Jan. 20, 2016 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times.
— by Richard Amery,L.A. Beat Editor

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