Signy Cohen holds a carved wooden feather at her Reflecting Spirit Gallery in Tofino. She’s made the bittersweet decision to close the iconic West Coast art hub at the end of the month.

Tofino’s Reflecting Spirit Gallery closing after 25 years of supporting local artists

One of the longest standing art galleries on the West Coast is closing its doors at the end of the month.

There is an undeniable changing of the tide taking place in Tofino as Reflecting Spirit Gallery, one of the longest standing art galleries on the West Coast, is closing its doors at the end of the month.

Gallery owner and artist Signy Cohen attributes her decision to close up shop to a number of reasons: Tofino’s expensive overhead and competition from online stores being in the forefront, plus a personal injury and her mother’s recent passing ebbing the time she had to spend with the business.

“It’s like a relationship break-up after all those years…There was a lot of changes this summer. I needed to look after myself,” Cohen said

“Part of what I felt too when I decided to close, I was a lot younger when I opened up the gallery, in my late thirties early forties. Maybe it’s just time for someone else to come in, like that other gallery Merge.”

Cohen first opened her gallery in the early nineties in the building that now houses Chocolate Tofino.

She called it Signy Cohen Art Studio, and it provided a hive of support for Tofino and Vancouver Island artists.

“Through the years, I’ve seen artists come in as true beginners and over the years become professional artists,” she said.

It wasn’t until Cohen moved her gallery to 411 Campbell Street a few years later that Cohen changed the name to Reflecting Spirit Gallery.  

“I feel that art is like a window to another persons’ spirit or soul,” she said.

“It’s not only that expression of that spirit of the artist, but when a viewer looks at it, it triggers something in them. It moves them in a way. It all reflects spirit.”

Over the next two decades, Cohen grew Reflecting Spirit Gallery into a true representation of West Coast art, showcasing over 200 local artists and operating the Kidz Art summer program in partnership with Tofino Parks and Rec. up until 2012.

Local artist and former gallery employee Jane Woodbury said the closing of Reflecting Spirit is a tremendous loss to the Tofino art community.

“You cannot replace 25 years of experience selling arts and craft, which is what Signy has. You can’t replace that,” Woodbury said.

While Cohen expressed a deep sadness in saying goodbye to her Tofino gallery, she said she is looking forward to putting more time into growing herself as an artist.

“I would like to thank the community of Tofino and visitors for all the years of support. A beautiful appreciative community to share art and culture within. I would like to thank the large number of creative people we call artists the gallery has known, represented, nurtured along with witnessing their creative transformations over a 25 year span,” she said.

“Thank you to all the amazing staff that have worked in the vision of the Tofino Reflecting Spirit Gallery, where magic happened almost daily.”

In 2010, Cohen opened a sister gallery in Ucluelet and she plans on consolidating her collections to this one store.

She said she’s excited about reinventing her business model to incorporate social media better.

“I also want to move away from the commercial prints and bring more hand held, artist touched work in,” she said.

“The art that reflects the West Coast will shine on.”

 

nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

 

 

Just Posted

Canadian Surf Team take on the Americas at Pan Am Games in Peru

270 athletes from 20 countries partake in Olympic 2020 qualifier.

VIDEO: Sea of Lights parade sparkles in Tofino

Tofino Resort and Marina’s Sea of Lights provided a breathtaking holiday experience on Friday night.

Winds of up to 90 km/hr predicted to hit Vancouver Island

Environment Canada is warning that loose objects may cause damage

Trapped humpback whale freed from salmon farm near Tofino

“All of these problems could be solved by the farms moving onto land and getting out of the ocean.”

Ucluelet police searching for missing man

Ucluelet police are asking for the public’s assistance in locating a missing 29-year-old.

Man caught on camera allegedly trying to defraud ICBC

Auto-insurer warns B.C. drivers to record info after crashes

Teenager Alphonso Davies wins Canadian Men’s Soccer Player for the Year Award

Derek Cornelius and Chilliwack native, Jordyn Huitema were named Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

B.C. teen MMA fighter shows heart

Young Unity MMA competitors bring home Ws

2,000 Canadians died of an overdose in first 6 months of the year

New data from the Public Health Agency of Canada shows the crisis is not subsiding

Another B.C. city votes to ban single-use plastic bags

First six months of proposed ban would focus on education, not enforcement

UK Prime Minister Theresa May wins party no-confidence vote, but troubles remain

May won the vote of 317 Conservative legislators with a 200-117 tally

B.C. trustee’s anti-LGBTQ comments got him barred from schools

Barry Neufeld calls vote to leave him off liaison list ‘workplace discrimination’

Firm says trees obstructing vision at Humboldt Broncos crash intersection

Sixteen people died and 13 others were injured in the collision at an intersection north of Tisdale

Most Read