Stayin' Alive

Toadfish (sometimes also called the Dolphin Toadfish because it is often dinner for a Dolphin) can usually be found amidst a considerable pile of oysters which are its dinner of choice and Toadfish likes to know that it’s got enough. As some oyster divers can attest, Toadfish has sharp teeth, very good hearing and a strong grip. Mess with its stash at your peril.
While toadfish was the inspiration for this piece, I confess that in actuality the toadfish is nowhere near as cute as this guy. What happened was that originally, when I learned about how the toadfish collects and collects and collects oysters, fiercely protecting a stash far larger than can be consumed in the near future, it brought back memories of the vile and horrible men who covet and keep unwilling girls for their own purposes, of the greed for money that is characteristic of those men, and by extension, of my own grandfather who was one of those men… and for whatever reason… after a lifetime of despising that man I suddenly realized that he had most likely become the man he was because he, as child, had been abandoned by his own mother and been raised in most severe poverty… I felt nothing but heartbreak for his having been too fragile to come out of that situation not as a compassionate person, but as an abuser himself, as a person who would do whatever it took to have the money he felt he deserved, which was a lot.
And with that opening of my heart, I saw my ugly model with different eyes, saw who my grandfather could have been… if he had been stronger by nature… and toadfish became that someone else. A fish is what it is, but we – fish out of water that we are – we are not only what we are but also what was ‘gifted’ to us by those around us. Cellular memory runs deep and the information it carries stays with us.
The painting is on an oval Convexo canvas and slopes back to the wall.