Montana Meth Project: Winners of Paint the State art contest announced

The Montana Meth Project has announced the winners of its Paint the State contest, awarding six teenagers a total of $30,000 for creating pieces of public artwork with an anti-methamphetamine message.

The contest started in June, when teens across the state were invited to submit their original artwork in one of three categories: video, outdoor/monument/sculpture or artwork/photography.

A panel that included actor J.K. Simmons, musician Tyler Barham, artist Larry Pirnie and photographer Mark Mesenko judged each of the entries and selected a winner in each category to receive a $7,500 prize.

Online voters also selected winners in each category for a $2,500 People’s Choice Award.

The celebrity panel chose Britt Juchem of Missoula as the winner of the video category, Briar Ahlborn of St. Ignatius for outdoor art and Peyton Schliep of Great Falls for photography. Jacob Jones of Belgrade won the People’s Choice Award for video, Laura Goulet of Belgrade for outdoor art and Ross Peterson of Missoula for photography.

The Montana Meth Project previously held Paint the State campaigns in 2006 and 2010, during which teens across Montana created more than 1,000 works of public art with a focus on preventing methamphetamine use.

Montana Meth Project again will ‘Paint the State’ with message, adds digital art

The Montana Meth Project has relaunched its “Paint the State” campaign, once again hoping to blanket the state with murals and other artwork created by teenagers.

During Paint the State campaigns held in 2006 and 2010, teens created more than 1,000 works of public art, drawing attention to the important cause of preventing methamphetamine use in the state.

The contest challenges Montana youths ages 13 and older to create a publicly visible work of art in any format or medium, centering the piece on an anti-meth theme, for a chance at winning some of the $30,000 in cash prizes being given away. Teens can enter the contest individually or as teams of up to four people.

While the art projects can stay on display long term, they must be visible from at least July 16, the day after registration closes, until Sept. 15.

Amy Rue, executive director of the Montana Meth Project, said Paint the State this year will also be accepting digital entries in the form of video, photography and other artwork.

In recent years, she said, the organization has shifted the focus of its marketing to having conversations on social media with teens about the dangers of meth use, finding the youths in places they already are online. Digital entries for Paint the State have the potential to spread the message even further.

“A post on Facebook can have a wider reach than a billboard on the side of Highway 200,” Rue said.

People’s Choice Awards, worth $2,500 each, will be presented in three categories: video, outdoor/monument/sculpture and artwork/photography. Those awards will be determined by the number of views the entry receives through social media.

A $7,500 Celebrity Artists Award will also be given out in each category, chosen by a panel the Montana Meth Project hopes to announce in the coming week. All winners will be announced Sept. 18, 2015.

Registration for Paint the State, including submitting a photo, location and description of the artwork, must be done by July 15. Voting will begin Aug. 1.

For more information about Paint the State, including how to register, visit