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The Journal’s Exceptional People of the Week: Ron and his daughter Taylor Broda

Cathy Dobson Within minutes of meeting Ron Broda, you realize this guy has an exceptional talent for the arts and an equally exceptional zest for life.
Ron Broda and his daughter Taylor Broda outside the Gallery in the Grove. (Cathy Dobson photo)

Cathy Dobson

Within minutes of meeting Ron Broda, you realize this guy has an exceptional talent for the arts and an equally exceptional zest for life.

“Ron puts his heart and soul into everything he does,” says Kirsty Holmes, friend and fellow board member at the Gallery in the Grove.

“I cannot express how much I love Ron’s passion for people, for art and for his family. He’s so incredibly creative.

“He’s just a really good human.”

He’s also a really accomplished human.

Ron realized 40 years ago that he has a natural talent to think in 3-D. He taught himself to create spectacular paper sculptures, beautiful in their detail and so charming and lifelike that he’s been asked to illustrate books for numerous publishing companies including Scholastic, Penguin Random House and National Geographic.

Ron Broda’s paper sculpture “Or Flight” featured in Kindred Spirits. Submitted photo.

Since the early 1990s, he’s illustrated 12 children’s books, primarily related to the natural world such as “Have You Seen Bugs” and “In My Backyard.” They are frequently recommended for children but fascinate and entertain adults too.

Ron’s been called one of Canada’s top five children’s book illustrators.

Over the years he’s worked in advertising, art directing and commercial illustration, creating ad campaigns and art pieces for clients like Coca Cola, Chrysler and Xerox. At one time, he managed The Discovery House on Christina Street in Sarnia where an eclectic collection of local historical artifacts and train models were on display.

The Discovery House was located at 475 Christina St. North in a mansion that now functions as St. Joseph’s Hospice.

Ron’s large paper sculpture of 475 Christina St. is one of his pieces in a father/daughter show opening at Gallery in the Grove Saturday.

He’s passed his love and exceptional creativity to his three adult children who are each pursuing careers in the arts. Twenty-six-year-old Dylan works in TV and film. Eden, 28, is an actress and artist. And Taylor, 30, is an artist who graduated in drawing and painting from Toronto’s OCAD University in 2019.

When approached about a collaborative show with her dad, Taylor produced 18 new paintings for it, focusing on her signature female figure from the shoulders up. She also jumped full-tilt into painting with colour, something she hadn’t done before.

Taylor Broda’s colour block series. (Cathy Dobson photo)

“I have a huge love for the odd, the unusual and the unconventional,” said Taylor. “This show is all about showcasing where I’ve come since graduating and it’s lit a fire under me.

“All I want to do is push myself and see where my art takes me.”

In her final year at OCAD, Taylor says she experienced the thrill of selling her work for the first time at the GradEx graduate show. She was also noticed by an art blogger (BlogTO) who called her one of the top 25 artists to watch coming out of OCAD University.

“It was kind of surreal,” says Taylor. “I never expected my work to be so well-received.”

“Stark” by Taylor Broda, part of a private collection and one of 19 pieces showcasing Taylor’s talent at Gallery in the Grove from June 10 – July 8. (Cathy Dobson photo)

She moved home to Sarnia during the pandemic and became inspired by her walks on the beach to start painting with colour for the first time.

Their show is called Kindred Spirits in recognition of the love Ron and Taylor share for the arts.

“My parents nurtured the artist in all of us,” said Taylor. “I have a very strong drive to create.”

“I really didn’t have to push any of my kids into the arts,” Ron said. “It was just part of us.”

His wife, Joanne Webb, is an artist and photographer.

“I only want them all to enjoy life,” Ron continued. “I tell them to learn to cook and how to play an instrument, and you’ll always be the life of the party.”

Kindred Spirits, Ron and Taylor Broda’s father/daughter exhibition at Gallery in the Grove, opens Saturday, June 10 with a reception from noon to 2 p.m.

The show continues until July 8. Regular gallery hours are Monday – Thursday 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.; Friday & Saturday 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. See for more details.

Who do you consider an exceptional person in Sarnia-Lambton? Nominate someone you know and explain why you think they should be The Journal’s Exceptional Person of the Week. Email [email protected].

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