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Meth Art Winner Uses Rodeo Theme

Helena IR, Aug. 21, 2010

The winners of the Paint the State contest were announced in a packed Capitol rotunda Friday.

The Montana Meth Project has named a Custer County teen as the grand prize winner. Incoming high school freshman Faith Martin and her co-contestant, Beth Sutter, spent more than 40 hours constructing a nearly 13-foot, three-dimensional acrylic painting that depicts a skeleton riding a bucking bull on the side of a barn. Next to the painting are the words, "Don't Let Meth Be Your Last Ride."

The big winners were not at the awards ceremony but Martin said in a statement that once she saw how serious the methamphetamine problem was, she knew she had to participate.

"We chose the rodeo theme because Miles City has a historic Western heritage and we wanted to show the idea that meth can affect people from all walks of life," she said.

Martin and Sutter will receive $5,000 plus a prize package donated by Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament, who was one of the Paint the State judges this year. The package will include a limited-edition Pearl Jam concert tour poster autographed by all of the members of the band and other band memorabilia.

Anti-meth messages were emblazoned upon everything from silos to bulldozers to jagged pieces of mirror. In all, the public art pieces blanketed more than 30,000 square feet across the state.

Prizes also were awarded in each of Montana's 56 counties, with $1,500 for first place, $1,000 for second place, and $500 for third place.

A complete list of winners is available at www.PaintTheStateMontana.org.

The Lewis and Clark County winners were: first place, Nikki Pierson; second, Devan McNatt; and third Rachel Twoteeth.

Twoteeth, 16, said she had an inkling she had placed when she got a call from Montana Meth Project officials urging her to attend Friday's ceremony but she wasn't sure.

"It was a surprise," she said Friday afternoon. "It was fun. I really liked all of the other entries that we submitted."

Twoteeth painted a teepee with a depiction of a Native American on a horse. The black of the artwork shows the darkness inside of him, while everything else on the outside is still good, she said.

"I wanted to get the word out about meth. I really wanted to do something different that

wasn't creepy. I had seen a lot with the grim reaper and I didn't want to do that," Twoteeth said.

The project took her about two weeks.

Pierson and McNatt could not be reached for comment Friday.

Stevie Boyer, who received third place for Yellowstone County had one of the mobile entries. The 13-year-old girl, with the help of her parents, spray painted the family's motor home, which they then drove from Grants Pass, Ore., to Billings.

The painting showed the lives sullied by meth with skulls and a grim reaper. It took them two full days to complete.

"This is so neat that they do this," said Boyer's mother, Marchelle.

This year's competition is the second Paint the State. The first one was held in 2006 and boasted more than 660 works of art. A Townsend resident, Alexa Audet, took the statewide grand prize four years ago for a mural. Her vibrant painting of a mermaid contrasted with a jagged black corner with the "Not Even Once" logo was painted on the side of the Townsend City Pool Building.