Dr. Ivan Jen and Dr. Suzanne Yip and Family
“We belong in Saskatoon, and we like to support the city,” says Dr. Ivan Jen. “We do what we can to give back.”
Jen, his wife, Dr. Suzanne Yip, and their children, Saskatoon dentist Dr. Stephen Jen, and Leslie Jen, a Toronto-based architecture and design journalist, have donated a total of $250,000 to Remai Modern. In recognition of this significant gift, one of the permanent collection galleries on the second floor is named the Dr. Ivan Jen and Dr. Suzanne Yip Family Gallery.
“We loved the Mendel Art Gallery,” says Suzanne. “Leslie took art classes there when she was little, and it was important to her. Inspired by her early childhood visits to the Mendel, she studied art and English literature before receiving degrees in law and architecture. We understand why people were nostalgic about the place, but we recognize that circumstances dictated a shift in site and strategy.”
Adds Ivan, “We have been happy to play a small part, joining other generous donors in helping to build Remai Modern. It will be an exciting and dynamic art museum for Saskatoon and the province of Saskatchewan.”
As devotees of modernist art and architecture, they are excited by the bold form of the new building, designed by KPMB Architects in association with Architecture49. They have eagerly watched the structure taking shape at River Landing.
The couple has forged a deep bond with this community. Born in Hong Kong, Ivan and Suzanne immigrated to Saskatoon with their respective mothers in the early 1950s. They were joining their respective fathers, who came to Canada in the early 1900s – a dark period during which the country’s Chinese Exclusion Act (1923-1947) prohibited their spouses and children from joining them.
Ivan and Suzanne met at the University of Saskatchewan, where both pursued medical studies. He became a general practitioner, and later a dermatologist; she became a radiologist. As young physicians building their careers and raising a family, they demonstrated their passion for art and design by supporting the community’s established and emerging artists. Among their first purchases in the early 1960s were works by William Perehudoff, Wynona Mulcaster and Henry Bonli, and in subsequent decades, Douglas Bentham, Don Foulds and Jonathan Forrest, among many others. They have since donated many of these paintings and sculptures to Remai Modern’s permanent collection.
In addition to the moral support and financial assistance for artists and for the community’s new museum, Ivan and Suzanne have supported many other community initiatives, including Saskatoon’s three hospitals; the Saskatoon Community Foundation; the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Saskatchewan; the Meewasin Valley Authority; their alma mater, the University of Saskatchewan; and the Cameco Riverfront Campaign to construct the plaza at River Landing.