It’s officially summer break, and the weather is finally acting like it. So do you have summer plans? How about your children?
The Montana Meth Project has an answer, if you don’t: participate in Paint the State, the nonprofit’s contest for teens to creatively express their own visible anti-meth message and potentially earn a little cash in the process.
The Meth Project is bringing back Paint the State for a second time after wild popularity back in 2006, when teens from all 56 Montana counties created 660 works of art — making it one of the largest public art contests in history. Professional photographs were taken of all winning entries and were exhibited in the Montana Capitol and compiled into a book.
In the first contest four years ago, Townsend student Alexa Audet won the top $13,000 cash prize for her colorful mural depicting a mermaid, silhouetted against a vibrant sunset. The serene scene is shattered by a jagged line, and blackness. The message captured in the mural reads, “Shattered hopes, dreams and all things imagined. With meth, it’s never a pretty picture.”
Cash prizes will again lure teens to participate this year. County commissioners have been recruited to judge all entries in their counties for first, second and third prizes of $1,500, $1,000 and $500. All first-place winners will compete for a $5,000 grand prize that will be awarded by a panel of three judges: Pearl Jam bassist and Big Sandy native Jeff Ament (yeah!), famed Montana artist Monte Dolack and Darrell G. Beauchamp, director of the C.M. Russell Museum. Entries will be judged on the strength of the anti-meth message, artistic merit and creativity, and public visibility.
In the inaugural competition, students painted murals on cars, billboards, buses, roofs, grain elevators, garbage cans and other high-profile locations.
Montana Meth Project Executive Director Bill Slaughter wants to see more than double the participants this year. With full funding by sponsors who have donated more than $170,000, that should be possible.
Parents, encourage your teens to participate. Teens, rope in your friends. Conjure up a good message with an artistic design and pick a visible spot.
More details and entry forms are available online at paintthestate
montana.org. Contestants must be between the ages of 13 and 18, and group entries are welcomed. Entries must be registered at the Paint the State website by June 30. Contestants must submit photos of their works by July 18, and the artwork must be on display July 19-23. Winners will be announced Aug. 20.
Let’s keep that grand prize in the tri-county region, and in the process, send the most powerful message possible that doing meth isn’t cool.