2009-04-16 / Features

In Art Contest, Condiment Serves As Unusual Canvas

By Charlie Ban and Liz Hayes

TARENTUM, Pa. (AP) - Nathan Doverspike's art soon will be seen by millions on an unusual canvas: Heinz ketchup packets.

The high school sophomore's design is one of the winners of "Heinz Ketchup Creativity Contest,'' the Pittsburgh company announced last week.

Doverspike and eighth grader Kerri Silbaugh of the Monart School of Art in Washington are the first Pittsburgh-area winners - and first Pennsylvania winners - since the contest began three years ago.

Their entries, selected from 45,000 submissions, each beat two other finalists in their grade levels in an Internet poll.

Doverspike attends Highlands High School in Natrona Heights, about 20 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. But he got the news while he was in the perfect place to celebrate _ Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, where he was on a trip with his parents, Todd and Christine Doverspike.

"I was surprised,'' said Doverspike, 15, of Fawn. "The other ones were pretty good.''

Nationwide, 45,000 students entered the contest - more than triple the number who entered last year, according to an H.J. Heinz Co. spokeswoman.

A panel of judges cut that number to 120 - 10 designs for each grade level. Nationally acclaimed pop artist Burton Morris, a Pittsburgh native, narrowed the field down to three per grade.

Doverspike said his art is similar in style to Morris, which Doverspike thinks may have given his entry an edge.

Doverspike's design features a cartoon pickle with a "Joe Cool'' vibe, leaning against the classic Heinz ketchup bottle in shades and what Doverspike has called "dorky, tall socks.'' In the background are city buildings colored in Pittsburgh's signature black and gold.

"I wanted to make him kind of a cool-looking character,'' Doverspike said of his creation.

Each winning design will appear on over 19 million ketchup packets over the next year _ possibly including some awarded to cafeterias in the winners' school districts.

In addition to a $1,000 cash prize for each winner, each winner's school district receives $1,000 worth of Heinz ketchup and $1,000 for its art program.

Teresa Emeloff, Doverspike's art teacher and a lunchroom monitor, said she knew the ketchup would be appreciated by the student body: "Kids put ketchup on everything; they'll love it.''

"He's getting used to the attention that came with being a finalist,'' she said. "He was quiet before, but in the last few weeks he's opened up a lot.''

All of Emeloff's students submitted designs for the contest. Although this is only Doverspike's second year of formal art training, Emeloff has said he shows a lot of promise with his distinctive style.

Doverspike is considering a career as a graphic artist.

His grandmother, Brenda Doverspike, said the award came after years of enjoying art.

"He's always liked to draw, and he has always wanted to do something like this,'' she said. "It's exciting, and we're all proud of him.''

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