Creativity a product of Genetics or Passion? / by Michele

A friend’s post on Facebook today, got me thinking about the connection between Creativity and genes. Everyone can learn to be creative to some degree; but, is the propensity to create art inherited or just a learned skill?

I believe it is a bit of both.

I was aware of my mother’s love of art, she was first who encouraged me to produce at an early age and into this world of art is where I find myself most at peace. Sadly, my mother wasn’t able to explore her craft fully until late in life and only then produced a few pieces, of which I now hold dear. 

In remembering family discussions and past genealogy searches, I recalled that my lineage held three more Creatives, of whom I would like to honor here.

Specifically speaking, my Great-Great Grandfather Giuseppe Tango (Mathematician, Architect, Engineer, Painter), my Great-Grandfather, Camillo Tango (Painter, Photographer, Lithographer) and his brother, my Great-Grand Uncle, Egisto Tango (Maestro, Chief Conductor of the Royal Hungarian and the Royal Danish Operas).

Performing a Google search provides only a small window into their artistic achievements, but through the grace and kindness of familial relations, I was gifted with photos of my great-grandfather’s paintings and look upon them with wonder that I share in this exclusive family heritage. Although, I’m told our styles are completely different (he -> classically trained, me more emotionally obliged) it is apparent that the ‘art’ gene has successfully passed down.

Though they are all long gone from this earth, I often reflect on each of their lives and humbly feel privileged to be a part of such lineage. I strive to hope that someday, I too shall command maybe but a speck of a great work such as they mastered.

So, I leave it up to you to ponder the theories to the extent of whether or not creativity is heritable. In the end, I suppose it is not from whence you came, but how you create now, for future generations to gaze and marvel at your accomplishments; to wonder about your life story. For that is the true gift of being a Creative, continually seeking to master immortality through our art.

Forgive my sparse historical accounting of each of their lives, but what I do have is a few photographs and recordings of some of their works that I will share with you.

Giuseppe Tango (1839 – ?)

Giuseppe Tango

Enlisted in the Engineers Corps in 1858 – 1886; retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, Giuseppe was involved in many works of military and fortifications throughout Italy (Rome, Messina, Ancona and Napoli, etc).  In 1860 Giuseppe acquired doctorates in both Math and Architecture, working successive military and city zoning projects, he also produced, competed, and exhibited in civilian art enterprises. He was widely published in learned journals on military, engineering and architecture in Italy and even found on Amazon today. It is said that he had seven children, of which I have only heard the stories of two –> Camillo and Egisto.

Camillo Tango (1875 - 1967)

camilloyoungold.jpg

Born on August 2, 1875 to Giuseppe Tango and Lucia Ghiglione of Napoli. In 1912, Camillo emigrated from Turino, Italia to New York with his wife Felicina, daughters and son. One of his professional travels led him to New Orleans where he was commissioned to paint the Stations of the Cross for a beloved New Orleans historical landmark, the Saint Patricks Cathedral which are still on view today. Settling in Ohio he continued his profession as a Photographer, Lithographer and Painter (primarily commissions from Roman Catholic institutions), perfecting his art including painting one of his largest Murals on the ceiling of St. Wendelin's Church, Cleveland Ohio in 1935 – sadly, now gone). Camillo Tango lived unto the age of 92.

Camillo Tango oil painting of Great Grandmother Felicina Tango 1

Camillo Tango oil painting of Great Grandmother Felicina Tango 1

Camillo Tango oil painting of Great Grandmother Felicina Tango 2

Camillo Tango oil painting of Great Grandmother Felicina Tango 2

Camillo Tango oil painting of Peaches and the Flies

Camillo Tango oil painting of Peaches and the Flies

Camillo Tango oil painting of Chickens in the Yard

Camillo Tango oil painting of Chickens in the Yard

Camillo Tango oil painting of Jesus

Camillo Tango oil painting of Jesus

Egisto Tango (1873 – 1951)

Theater photo: Egisto Tango (far right) with Banfy Nicholas, Desi Zador, Bartók Martha Ziegler, Kéméndy Eugene, Bela Bartok, 1918, Budapest, Hungary

Theater photo: Egisto Tango (far right) with Banfy Nicholas, Desi Zador, Bartók Martha Ziegler, Kéméndy Eugene, Bela Bartok, 1918, Budapest, Hungary

Born in Rome, Italia on November 13, 1873 to Giuseppe Tango and Lucia Ghiglione; Egisto was the brother of Italian artist Camillo Tango who immigrated to America in 1912. Maestro Tango conducted initially in Italy, made a few brief visits to the US, conducting in New York City and made history, according to the New York Tribune advertisement of 13 January 1910. “On January 13, 1910, the first public radio broadcast was an experimental transmission of a live Metropolitan Opera House performance of several famous opera singers. The first public radio broadcast consisted of performances of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci. Riccardo Martin performed as Turridu, Emmy Destinn as Santuzza, and Enrico Caruso as Canio. The conductor was Egisto Tango. This wireless radio transmission event of the Italian tenor Enrico Caruso of a concert from the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City is regarded as the birth of public radio broadcasting.” 

Inventor and Radio Pioneer, Lee deForest had suspended microphones above the Opera House stage and in the wings and set up a transmitter and antenna. A flip of a switch magically sent forth sound. It was erratic and since virtually no one actually owned a radio, few heard the broadcast. But for the few that heard it, listeners were enthralled by the fact that live human voices were being wirelessly transmitted in real time.

After Italy, Egisto moved to Hungary and where he was lead Conductor of the Royal Hungarian Opera. Later Egisto moved to Copenhagen, Denmark and took the position of Chief Conductor of the Royal Danish Opera. He became a citizen of Denmark. During the Second World War, and the Nazi occupation of Denmark, Maestro Tango was directly involved in the assisting, hiding, and escape of numerous Jewish musicians. As such, he was much sought after by the SS and Gestapo and he stood on hippoernes liquidation list, was forced underground. He survived the war and continued his profession until shortly before his death on October 4, 1951, living unto the age of 77.  Maestro Tango was married but had no children of his own. “Nein-Nein-Nein!” as understood each and every one that they loved their Maestro. His gravestone is removed - such things happening in our country. But the spirit can neither time nor bigotry overcome.” ~ Povl Ingerslev-Jensen 1 (Amazing article about Egisto's character).

1. The Incredible Tango: Volume: 51, Pages: 152-157, Author: Pal Ingerslevsgade-Jensen, Publisher: Association of Danish Music Journal

Egisto Tango painted by MÁRFFY, ÖDÖN in 1918

Egisto Tango painted by MÁRFFY, ÖDÖN in 1918

Painting of Egisto Tango created in 1918 by a notable Hungarian artist, MÁRFFY, ÖDÖN (1878-1959).