Is Art in the Genes?

I often wonder about things.  For example, do people who follow in their father’s footsteps or do so because of genetics?  Or, is it an acquired skill or predilection?  I thought more about this when I saw that Sheldon Snyder and Tova Snyder ( were in an exhibition “Influence of the Land,” together at the Transform Art Gallery, 20 Jones Street in New Rochelle (  Was this a coincidence?  Apparently not.  These two are father and daughter reunited in an exhibition organized by David Hochberg with a third artist, Eric Camiel.

I first met Tova, a graduate of Yale and Tyler School of Art, when she rented a studio in ArtsWestchester’s building in downtown White Plains.  I admired her paintings of Italian rooftops, which had a contemplative mosaic quality.  She applied and was appointed to the ArtsWestchester Artist Roster (, a corps of artists qualified to conduct residencies in schools and other community sites.  She excelled as a teaching artist.  Somewhere along the way, she won a competition to design a mural and her rooftops migrated to the MTA Harrison train station fabricated as stained glass windows.  Tova thinks of herself as a “performance painter” participating in festivals in Brazil and Italy in which she creates a mural on-site in four or five days.  She is a troubadour with a paint brush bringing her talents as a muralist into Westchester communities as she has done at the Port Chester Fest.

In contrast, Sheldon Snyder’s ( color palette is a far cry from his daughter’s mellow tones.  Rich in primary colors and bold graphic lines, Sheldon’s work has a naïve charm and sense of humor, most especially apparent in illustrations for his children’s books such as Pongee Goes To School, Four Lumps in My Cereal and Easygoing Oliver.  His versatility as an artist encompasses painting, pottery, wood sculpture and toys.  As a young artist, his pottery led him to open a ceramics gallery in Greenwich Village, later on a toy store in Provincetown, Mass, which he recreated and operated as “Katan Toys” in Rye for 17 years.

It’s not hard to imagine how this culturally enriched home life in various artistic centers, including a four-year stint in Israel, might magnetize a young person toward the arts.  Or is it just all in the genes?

The jury is still out (read What do you think?  Leave me a comment below.