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Alaska unveils finalists in license plate design contest — and you can help pick the winner

A moonlit mountainscape, a trapper's cache under the Big Dipper, a field of fireweed, a raven and swimming sockeye salmon are among the finalists in a contest to design Alaska's "artistic license plate."

The winning plate will end up as one of many designs Alaskans can choose from, including the iconic bear plate. More than 140 designs were submitted to the competition, which was set up through legislation last year pushed by Sitka Democratic Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins.

A "celebrity jury" that included Kreiss-Tomkins, first lady Donna Walker, Iditarod musher Aliy Zirkle and artist Ray Troll chose the five finalists. A public vote will decide the winner; it opened Thursday and will run through the end of October.

The identities of the designers are secret, with state officials only willing to reveal that they're all Alaskans.

"The idea is to focus on the design and creativity that went behind the final selections" rather than who made them, said Andrea Noble-Pelant, executive director of the Alaska State Council on the Arts, which is administering the contest. The jurors also weren't given the artists' identities, she said.

The winning plate will be available in early 2018, Noble-Pelant said. Proceeds from its sale will benefit state arts programs.

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