I remember watching old Silly Symphonies cartoons on tv, and was especially fond of their version of The Ant and the Grasshopper (or, as they put it, The Grasshopper and the Ants). And even though I knew the moral of the story was that we should be like the ants, industrious, conscientious, and hard-working, ready for winter and any other hardships that may come, my sympathies were always entirely with the grasshopper. And I was pleased that in the end the grasshopper’s contribution was seen as equally valuable. (On re-watching the cartoon now, while I still identify with the grasshopper, I think he is pretty much a tobacco-spitting jerk, and raise an eyebrow at the political implications –from all sides– of his song, The World Owes Me a Living.)
I’ve drawn all my life, and was an art major in college, despite repeated inquiries about what purpose majoring in art would serve. My sisters were also art majors, and I’m sure my parents were pulling out their hair at the thought of three unemployable children. Over the years I’ve gone back and forth between having a “real” job, and suddenly absolutely positively needing to quit the 9-to-5 world to spend time making art. Artists are actually the hardest-working people I know, but our reputation is that of the grasshopper.
In this print, the grasshopper is out in the open air, singing a happy song. The ant is far below in his labyrinthine storehouse, keeping company with his stockpile of goods. And aren’t we all buried under the twists and turns of our busy lives? Owned by our possessions? Often scowling in the dark, wondering how we’ll get free of everything that ties us down? Aren’t we all secretly jealous of the grasshopper?
The entire series of fairy tale prints (to date) will be on display at the Simpkins Swim Center here in Santa Cruz, from April 1 through May 30. Hours and directions are posted on its website.
The series will also be on display at the Santa Cruz County Government buildings, from June 1 through August 20, including First Friday receptions. Come on down!