Gazette opinion: Paint meth-free message on Montana landscape

2010-05-10T00:05:00Z Gazette opinion: Paint meth-free message on Montana landscapeGazette Staff The Billings Gazette
May 10, 2010 12:05 am  • 

The school year is winding up. Graduation is only weeks away. What are you doing this summer? What are your students doing?

The Montana Meth Project has a suggestion: a summer contest that offers teens the chance to creatively express their own anti-meth message and win thousands of dollars in cash prizes.

Paint the State is back by popular demand, according to Bill Slaughter, executive director of the Meth Project, a private, nonprofit organization devoted to raising awareness among Montana youth about the dangers of meth addiction. Teens kept asking when Paint the State would happen again, he said.

Four summers ago, the first Paint the State contest drew 660 works of art from teens in all 56 Montana counties. The contest awarded cash prizes. Professional photographs of winning entries were exhibited in the Montana Capitol and compiled in a book. This time, Slaughter is aiming for even more entries.

“We’re looking for 1,500 kids to do more than 800 pieces of artwork,” he said on a visit to Billings last week.

More than $170,000 in prize money donated by Montana businesses will be awarded. Entries will be judged on meth prevention message, artistic merit and creativity and public visibility.

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. First-place county winners will compete for a $5,000 grand prize that will be awarded by a panel of three judges: Pearl Jam bass player and Havre native Jeff Ament, artist Monte Dolack and Darrell G. Beauchamp, director of the C.M. Russell Museum.

This is a contest that calls for artwork on a large scale. The painting, sculpture or other display must be clearly visible from highways, streets or other public places. The entrant must have written permission from the property owner to display the artwork. In 2006, Paint the State entries appeared on buses, barn roofs, hay bales, garbage cans, tepees, grain elevators and other creative locations.

Contestants must be between the ages of 13 and 18, and group entries are encouraged. Parents are permitted to help, but the entry should be substantially the teens’ work.

So how about it? Parents, tell your teens. Teens, talk to your friends and art teacher. Get a great design idea and enter Paint the State. More details as well as entry forms are online at

Just remember these important dates:

•Entries must be registered at the website by June 30.

•Contestants must submit photos of their artwork by July 18.

•The artwork must be on public display July 19-23.

•Winners will be announced on Aug. 20.

Known for its edgy media campaign, Montana Meth Project has raised awareness about the problems of trying meth “even once.” However, teens themselves can be an even more powerful and influential voice for a meth-free Montana. Young people listen to their friends and peers.

Teens can send their own messages to all of Montana this summer when they Paint the State.


Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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