Psychiatrist, artist, author and founder of A Frog House, devotes her time to educate people about frogs
By Lynette M. Loomis
Margot Fass, 80, is a pioneer for women in medicine, a gifted artist and founder of A Frog House, the center of her environmental activism.
Always a lover of art, Fass painted whenever she could. Her gallery includes medical paintings, paintings of Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth, family portraits and prayer paintings, among others. Her many paintings of frogs may be seen regionally.
As fulfilling as the art of motherhood was to her, she felt there was another purpose, or several, for her life. At age 37 and as the mother of three, she went to medical school, becoming a psychiatrist.
She was told she was “too old.” She disagreed; she prevailed. “My husband, Martin, 87, has been incredibly supportive of my art, medical career and environmental activism. I am aware of how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful partner in life,” said Fass.
Frogs were a common subject in her painting and as she studied them, she became aware that frogs have been around for more than 200 million years. Fate intervened when her daughter, Lindsay, moved to Pittsford on the canal to a property with an abandoned tiny library. A crew from Next Door cleared out a weedy bank on the tow path. Restoration of the outbuilding began, and new plantings from her city garden beautified the property.
In 2018, A Frog House opened with information materials, frogabilia and frogaphlies. It’s expected to be open every Sunday, 1 p.m. to dusk, May to October. The motto is “honoring life, one frog at a time.”
Within the magic of this little house, Fass educates visitors about amphibian survival and holds recreational events and workshops on and off the property. Events include practical educational seminars, scavenger hunts and fun activities for children. (see a froghouse.org/events).
Fass’ passion for frogs and the environment inspired her to write and illustrate “Froggy Family’s First Frolic,” a whimsical illustrated children’s book.
The story idea came from husband Martin.
She loves to write in general and frogs give her no end of subjects to address.
There are 22 posts on her website since A Frog House opened in October, ranging in topics from pesticide free gardening, attracting frogs, intersectional justice, being kind, growing up and more.
Daughter Lindsay shares her property with A Frog House in return for her mom’s property enhancement and brings together social and political change makers and people who care about the environment. Fass’ son, Matthew, has built all of Fass’ websites, keeps her extensive digital portfolio online and maintains Fass’ current presence on afroghouse.org.
Robert Corby, mayor of Pittsford, has worked closely with Fass on preservation.
“One of Fass’ passions is the natural environment that supports us all. Out of concern for the accelerating decline of the natural world, she has studied the problem from both a world and local perspective,” Mayor Corby said. “Locally, A Frog House has sponsored a series of events including lectures, symposiums, walking tours, family educational events, and hands on workshops.
A Frog House has also been a collaborative partner in the Pittsford town and village project to preserve the thirty acres of undeveloped land in the northwest corner of the village.”
Words cannot do justice to the energy of this multi-talented woman, who said, “I think many people want to preserve the environment and falsely think that there is nothing one person can do. I strongly believe that if we can educate people in an ‘easy-to-do’ style, and show them how fun it can be, they will try something. That one thing becomes two and eventually doing the right thing for the environment, with beautiful ponds, walkways and natural plants, becomes a habit. One of the children who visited A Frog House told me, ‘When I grow up, I want to be a frog saver.’ That I might make some contribution to the future generations makes my heart swell.”
Photo by Stephen Ransom. A Frog House in Pittsford. It brings recreational events and workshops, practical educational seminars, scavenger hunts and fun activities for children — all revolving around frogs.