Bob Schira: The Sylvanian You Need to Know

Bob Schira, owner of For the Love of Art, and his family have been residents of Sylvania since 1989 and literally lit up the city with their presence. “We had a coffee pot blow up our first year here,” recalls Schira. “Our youngest son Ross woke us up out of hunger and ended up saving us. We had to go back to ‘sticks’ so to speak and build again. That was our start in Sylvania.” Schira and his wife Kathy have two sons, Ross, age 26, a nuclear engineer, and Mike, age 29, who is currently getting his master’s in English Literature. Ross is a Sylvania Southview graduate and Mike is a graduate of Sylvania Northview High School. “Both have plaques in their schools as National Merit Scholar runner-ups,” states Schira. “It’s fun to watch them become what they are becoming.”

Schira received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Toledo and a Mater of Fine Arts degree from Bowling Green State University. He has served as the coordinator of public programs for the Toledo Museum of Art and was a part-time instructor at the University of Toledo, BGSU and Spring Harbor College. He also spent two years at Lourdes University. “My role there was to pull the education department together,” states Schira. “We reached a point of optimal efficiency and I began looking for the next great thing.”

Schira found what he was looking for in 1995 when he stepped into the original location of For the Love of Art located on the corner of McCord and Central. “I went there looking for work and saw a ‘going out of business’ sign in the window when I arrived. I spoke with the owner and he gave me an offer. The rest is history. I’m glad I took the chance.”

Bob Schira, owner of For the Love of Art.
Bob Schira, owner of For the Love of Art.

The store has grown into a custom framing, art supply and creative haven for many at its new location on the corner of Sylvania and Holland-Sylvania. “There used to be three class offerings a week,” states Schira. “Now there are 19. We have had a lot of success. Mind you, the store has never been lucrative and I’m still living the life of an artist but we have enriched many lives through art. I have always enjoyed being in the classroom and frankly I’m good at it. The framing and supplies out front allow me to enjoy instructing my students in the classroom.”
Schira finds it rewarding when students “light up” with their artistic successes. “It is like a second-hand ‘buzz,’” he states. “I teach kindergartners through adults. I even have a 94 year-old student! I have sent dozen of young adults to art schools and many have received scholarships. I still have students come back to see me. I also enjoy being with the adults who were told that they could never make a living at art. These students who chose different career paths—doctors and lawyers–now come in to indulge in their artistic passions with like-minded people.”

Schira likes to guide his students but wants them to figure things out independently. “I never choose their subject matter for they need to be invested in it. I also try not to tell my students what to do but I have plenty of answers and lots of options for solutions.”

Sunday is Schira’s only day off. He spends it with his wife of 35 years or participating in his favorite activity—fishing—which recharges his battery and spirit. He hopes to continue teaching, framing (he grew up in a construction family and knows his way around tools) and offering supplies for artists as long as he is able. “For the Love of Art is aptly named,” he states. “It certainly hasn’t been for the money. I had a 6th grade student who submitted one of her creations to the Fulton County Fair and won a ribbon. She also won a ribbon for her goat. I don’t know which award meant more. Regardless, it was wonderful seeing her so excited. That’s a whole lot of satisfaction and the reason I’m here.”