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

Illegal dumping a bane on Ucluelet’s backroads

Surfrider and the Central Westcoast Forest Society host a ‘Backroads Clean Up’ around Kennedy Lake.

A Ucluelet-Tofino love story

Honeymoon on the high seas.

Tofino and Ucluelet are popular spots for weddings and proposals

When the sun strikes the sand of a West Coast beach, that’s amore.

Ucluelet company’s success goes through the roof

On the Edge Roofing and Contracting is celebrating three Small Business B.C. Awards nominations.

Cowichan, Sooke, Nanaimo, Victoria, Saanich schools remain closed

Snowfall warning over, Comox, Campbell River, Alberni and Qualicum open

VIDEO: Canada’s flag turns 54 today

The maple leaf design by George Stanley made its first appearance Feb. 15, 1965

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Plecas won’t run in next election if B.C. legislature oversight reforms pass

B.C. Speaker and Abbotsford South MLA says he feels ‘great sympathy’ for Jody Wilson-Raybould

Workshop with ‘accent reduction’ training cancelled at UBC

The workshop was cancelled the same day as an email was sent out to international students

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

Man in Vancouver Island hotel shooting pleads guilty to second-degree murder

Brandon Tyler Woody, from Victoria, to be sentenced in late March in B.C. Supreme Court

Judge rules Abbotsford home must be sold after son tries to evict mom

Mom to get back down payment and initial expenses

Trump officially declares national emergency to build border wall

President plans to siphon billions from federal military construction and counterdrug efforts

Snow turns to slush, rain as it warms up across B.C.’s south coast

Some areas are already covered by more than half a metre of snow following three separate storms

Most Read