The Paris of the Prairies gets its Lou­vre with the open­ing of Saska­toon’s Re­mai Mod­ern

Sharp - - CONTENTS - By Eric Mutrie

The Re­mai Mod­ern puts Saska­toon on the art map. Re­ally, though.

WHAT’S THE BEST city in Canada for mod­ern art? As of Oc­to­ber 21, the an­swer is un­equiv­o­cally Saska­toon. No, se­ri­ously. That’s thanks to the Re­mai Mod­ern, a boxy new prairie land­mark filled to the brim with Pi­casso linocuts — 405 of them, to be ex­act — and as­pir­ing to be the world’s top des­ti­na­tion for 21st-cen­tury Indige­nous art.

The fa­cil­ity is a suc­ces­sor to the Men­del Art Gallery, a pop­u­lar lo­cal in­sti­tu­tion that out­grew its 1960s-era digs. While a re­place­ment build­ing was ini­tially planned sim­ply to make more room for the Men­del’s 7,000-plus works, a vi­sion de­vel­oped for some­thing far bolder. Lo­cal phi­lan­thropist Ellen Re­mai was ex­cited, do­nat­ing the Pi­cas­sos, the cash, and the name that would sup­port that grand am­bi­tion. Ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor and CEO Gre­gory Burke, a New Zealand–born cu­ra­tor who got his start as a video artist be­fore helm­ing Toronto’s Power Plant Gallery in the mid-2000s, was equally en­thu­si­as­tic. Burke sees in Saska­toon’s bur­geon­ing cre­ative scene an ap­petite for the sort of cut­ting-edge fare that will se­cure his 130,000-square­foot in­sti­tu­tion a spot on the global radar. Sure enough, one of the guiding ques­tions be­hind his open­ing ex­hi­bi­tion is “What is ur­gent and why?” And the an­swer may very well be “Saska­toon.”

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