The final exhibits at Saskatoon’s Mendel Art Gallery

Watch above: The Mendel Art Gallery is approaching the end of an era. Having served the community for 50 years, the gallery will soon close its doors … but not before its final exhibits – which opened Friday. Carly Robinson has more.

SASKATOON – The Mendel Art Gallery has served the community for over 50 years. Now, final exhibitions are on display leading up to the gallery’s closure.

Curator Sandra Fraser wasn’t anticipating the two final exhibitions to embody the Mendel’s history so well.

“I would love to say we planned it this way, but it’s just good luck that we’re closing with these two exhibitions because they are just so community oriented,” said Fraser.

The Fifth World features aboriginal art, celebrating the 20th anniversary of Tribe Inc.

“They are a hugely important arts organization,” says Fraser, “particularly for indigenous artists.”

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For the 43rd year, the Mendel is showcasing art made by students from across the city in School Art.

“There is something about seeing these exhibitions, seeing School Art and the Fifth World that both point to the future, with a great deal of optimism.”

READ MORE: Admission fees possible for new art gallery in Saskatoon

Fraser notes the difficulty of trying to meet exceptions for the Remai Modern at the same time as delivering programming at the Mendel.

“We’ve been stretched trying to move the Remai Modern and still deliver the excellent programs that the Mendel is known for,” said Fraser.

“When we open (the Remai Modern) we want people to go, ‘this is fantastic, this is such an amazing asset for Saskatoon and beyond.’ So there’s a lot of pressure on us to develop that program, but it’s very exciting. There’s a lot of research that we need to do, and if we’re also organizing exhibitions here, it’s really hard.”

CEO and executive director for both the Remai and the Mendel, Gregory Burke, is reflective about the importance of the Mendel for Saskatoon’s art scene.

 “We wouldn’t be moving into Remai Modern without those 50 years of commitment from donors, from artists, from collectors, from the volunteers.”

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The Mendel officially closes its doors June 7. The Remai Modern won’t be opening until spring 2016.

Employees of the Mendel won’t know the fate of their jobs until human resources lays out its plans at the end of April.

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