Frog Is Where My He(Art) Is

Painting of a blue poison dart frog on a colorful lily pad by Margot Fass
Margot Fass “Serenity Surfing” Oil on Canvas 11 x 15″ Photo credit, Michael Rivera

A musician friend decided a few weeks ago that he didn’t like his music, and so he wasn’t going to make it any more. He said that what he imagines is not what comes out, and argued that making art only for himself is complete and abject narcissism. He objected to the thought that once art is made, it is for others to decide what it is and what it says to them, if anything. My friend asks, “Why do I have to be the one to listen to everyone else, when nobody listens to me?”

There are many theories about why or how people listen to or look at our work, and how one becomes “successful” (supporting oneself with one’s art and being widely recognized), including “It isn’t what you know, it is who you know.” For my musician pal, like many artists of various sorts, he can’t stomach the art crowd.

Margot Fass “A Brazilian Frog on Costa Rican Wagon Wheel” Oil on Canvas, 6 x 6″

Many creative people have sacrificed originality and honesty for fame and fortune, as well as the other way around. There are some who have achieved all four of these things, some who haven’t achieved any of them, and others who can claim exponential combinations of these and other factors.

Margot Fass “A Brazilian Frog on Costa Rican Wagon Wheel II” Oil on Canvas, 6 x 6″

If we feel like ugly ducklings, we need to find our bevy of swans with whom we can swim in elegance and grace. We must also discover our passions in order to move forward with confidence and strength. A swan probably doesn’t give a darn about its audience, and doesn’t give up being a swan because of the swan watchers, but follows its own inner compass of when and where to stay and go.

Speaking of creatures comfortable in water and on land, the precious frog has brought me much comfort and joy, and new friends who are as ardent about amphibians and the environment as I am.


Margot Fass “Homage to Vinnie Massaro” Oil on Hardboard, 17 x 22″ Photo Credit Allison Snyder-Nichols

Frogs have been my subject for many a painting, from my first fabric painting of the Hebrew letter Beit in 2007, through my most recent diptych of a blue poison dart frog (above).

People might walk by my works, look but not understand or like them, or understand or like them but not buy them.

Gardens of A Frog House. 2018. Photo credit Lindsay Graham.

In the meantime, the army of frogs, our friends, and I are using our own little ounces of strength to raise awareness of their endangered status, and their importance as bellwethers of changes that eventually will be fatal to humans. We are addressing how we can help save them (and hence ourselves) and improve chances of life for all.  Frogs have inspired me travel, to write, to paint, to advocate, to create A Frog House, pesticide free gardens and ponds, and help others to do the same.

You should see the abundant color and foliage now!

The Pittsford Village mayor, Robert Corby, the Town supervisor, Bill Smith and others are working on developing the last remaining adjacent large green spaces. It takes another kind of art to help promote this, and help with ways of communicating so that we can move forward cooperatively, rather than tearing each other down.

Aerial view of Pittsford Nature Preserve

Business card for A Frog House with description of its mission A Frog House is a haven of learning and an excuse to have fun and make art with others. On June 9 we painted clay pots to make toad abodes, in beautiful weather under the trees along the canal. Creating A Frog House and getting involved in environmental projects, and hopefully getting back by winter to my next Froggy Family children’s book, is where my he(art) is now—in my own inner compass, my heart, and soul.

Please visit A Frog House and help with our efforts.

A Frog House
65 State Street
Pittsford, NY 14534

For inquiries, please contact us at