SilverArts provides a stage for the creative talents of the visual, heritage, literary, and performing artists. Encouragement and recognition of creative potential and accomplishment is the goal of the SilverArts program.
Here's a little something from a regional winner who's moving on up to the state competition this October:
Fred Flaxman won first prize in the fiction category in the Literary Arts category of the regional Silver Arts Competition. His humorous short story, "Oliver Wingnut," takes place in contemporary Weaverville. It was originally written for a National Public Radio contest which limited the entries to 600 words, four of which had to be "plant," "button," "fly," and "magic." Flaxman's story is below:
© 2010 by Fred Flaxman
Despite his unfortunate name, Oliver Wingnut was a balanced, stable person who worked at the same plant in the small town of Weaverville for twenty years. He was rather undistinguished except for his thick eyeglasses and his thin button nose, both of which were appropriate to his job at Weaverwear.
The company dated back to a time when pistachios and Russians were red, and towels and clothing were still manufactured in the U.S. Weaverwear made pajamas, and Wingnut was in charge of quality control for buttonholes and fly openings.
“Most people don’t realize how important it is,” he once explained to the Weaverville Tribune, “that buttonholes not be too big or too small. Too small and the buttons won’t go in them without undo force; too large and the buttons won’t stay put, which could be a source not only of embarrassment, but also of costly lawsuits. The same applies to unintended fly openings, or, worse yet, to intended fly openings that did not open when desired.”
But the recession of 2009 brought the long history of Weaverwear to an abrupt end, along with the career of Oliver Wingnut.
Twenty years of experience as an expert in buttonhole and fly-opening quality control lacked value when Wingnut tried to find another position. He obtained the only job he could possibly do that he found in the minuscule job openings column of the Tribune. It was for a door-to-door salesman of magic tricks.
Although Weaverville is a friendly town, and people will still open their doors and speak to a stranger, most door-to-door salespeople here are trying to sell salvation, not magic tricks. It would have taken real magic to sell anything in this economic climate, and Wingnut was no magician.
So one door after another politely closed in his face, resulting in severe depression, especially that he was by nature pessimistic. After all, you don’t become an expert in buttonholes and fly openings by seeing the glass half full instead of half empty.
He was just about to give up on door-to-door sales work when he approached one of the town’s few apartment buildings. It was full of screaming kids whose parents could surely see the quieting benefits of getting their offspring hooked on magic tricks. But as Wingnut was about to enter the building, he noticed a sign that changed his life forever. It read: “No Soliciting.”
He left immediately and drove to Weaverville Signs, where he ordered 25 plastic “No Soliciting” signs similar to the one he had just seen on the apartment building, but smaller.
Two days later he picked up his order and continued going house-to-house trying to sell magic tricks. But time after time he was told, “Sorry, no soliciting here.” Nevertheless, just as the doors were being closed, he called out, “Then I have exactly what you need!”
Wingnut was fired by the magic trick distributor. However he continued to peddle his “No Soliciting” signs door-to-door.
At the same time, Weaverville Signs fell on hard times, reduced as it was to turning out mostly “No Soliciting,” “Going Out of Business” and “Foreclosure Sale” signs. But Wingnut was such a success in selling “No Soliciting” notices, he extended his offerings to include “No Googling after 2 A.M.,” “No Tweeting While Eating,” and “No Sexting in Shower.” These saved the company from bankruptcy.
Weaverville Signs offered him jobs as salesman or creative director, but he turned down both. He wanted something that made better use of his years of experience. When they picked him as Vice-President for Screw-Hole Quality, he gladly accepted.
Flaxman is the author of Sixty Slices of Life ... on Wry: The Private Life of a Public Broadcaster, available locally at Accent on Books, Malaprop's, and Barnes & Noble, or via Amazon.com, SixtySlices.com, or BarnesandNoble.com on the internet.