Arts council tries to put salmon (and Denali) on your plate

The Alaska State Council for the Arts is offering salmon on a plate.

It’s also offering the aurora, a raven and Denali. All are among the five options in a contest to determine a new license plate. Voting is open online through Oct. 31 at

“License plates, if you think about it, are little canvases, really, for imagery and art. It seems exciting to be able to make them very much a canvas of the people, both submitting, proposing designs and voting which design best represents the spirit of the state,” said Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, D-Sitka.

Kreiss-Tomkins, who goes by the nickname JKT, was the sponsor of legislation that created the license plate contest. The plate selected by voters will not replace Alaska’s default license plates; it will be a new license plate sold on behalf of the Alaska State Council on the Arts, just as other license plates benefit firefighters and charitable causes.

“It’s a project that’s really innovative. We’re taking a different approach to involve different people in the state and try to reach everyone who’s eligible to vote,” said Andrea Noble-Plant, the director of the state council.

More than 15,000 votes have already been submitted among the five finalists. One hundred and forty-two submissions were offered to a jury whose votes narrowed the field to five.

Alongside Kreiss-Tomkins, Sen. Mia Costello, R-Anchorage, was a member of the jury and said she followed a simple criteria for narrowing the selections: “Timeless designs that would always be relevant to all Alaskans. Examine the cultural, visual, historical and economic relevance of the designs and chose accordingly. Look for narratives in designs. Ideal plate doesn’t try to sell Alaska to the outside; but rather trying to communicate something all Alaskans would intrinsically understand.”

Musher Aliy Zirkle, artist Ray Troll, musician and entrepreneur Phillip Blanchett, First Lady Donna Walker and author Roy Aglolnga were other jurors.

So was Juneau artist Pat Race.

“I was mostly looking for something that spoke to our identity, our unique identity as Alaskans, and it’s hard to tell you something until you see it,” he said.

Submissions came from schools and individual artists across the state.

The selected design will last for four years, and after that period, the arts council will hold a new contest to select another design. The end result may be a kalidoscope of different designs.

“I want to be 20-30-40 years down the road and see a bunch of weird arts license plates on people’s cars. I think that would be pretty cool,” Race said.

Voting is free and open to Alaska residents. The program is intended to be revenue-neutral at worst (an additional fee charged to plate buyers will cover costs), and anything extra will go to the arts council.

“I hope it helps,” Kreiss-Tomkins said.

• Contact reporter James Brooks at or call 523-2258.

More in News

Aurora Forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Feb. 5

Folks at the Alaska State Capitol openly admit to plenty of fish tales, but to a large degree in ways intended to benefit residents and sometimes even the fish. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
The bizarre bills other state legislatures are considering

Alaska’s Legislature isn’t mulling the headline-grabbers some statehouses have in the works.

This photo shows snow-covered hills in the Porcupine River Tundra in the Yukon Territories, Canada. In July 1997, a hunter contacted troopers in Fairbanks, Alaska, and reported finding a human skull along the Porcupine River, around 8 miles (13 kilometers) from the Canadian border. Investigators used genetic genealogy to help identify the remains as those of Gary Frank Sotherden, according to a statement Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, from Alaska State Troopers. (AP Photo / Rick Bowmer)
Skull found in ‘97 in Interior belongs to New York man

A skull found in a remote part of Alaska’s Interior in 1997… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Officer William Hicks stands with JPD Chief Ed Mercer and Deputy Chief David Campbell during a swearing in ceremony for Hicks on Thursday at the JPD station in Lemon Creek. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
New officer joins JPD’s ranks

The Juneau Police Department welcomed a new officer to its ranks Thursday… Continue reading

These photos show Nova, a 3-year-old golden retriever, and the illegally placed body hold trap, commonly referred to as a Conibear trap, that caught her while walking near Outer Point Trail last week. (Courtesy / Jessica Davis)
Dog narrowly survives rare illegally placed trap in Juneau

State wildlife officials outlined what to do if found in similar situation

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Public defender agency to refuse some cases, citing staffing

ANCHORAGE — A state agency that represents Alaskans who cannot afford their… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police: Gift card scam connected to hoax Fred Meyer threats

This article has been moved in front of the Empire’s paywall. A… Continue reading

This is a concept design drawing that was included in the request for proposal sent out by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities seeking outside engineering and design services to determine whether it’s feasible to build a new ferry terminal facility in Juneau at Cascade Point. (Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities)
DOT takes steps toward potential Cascade Point ferry terminal facility

It would accommodate the Tazlina and or Hubbard, shorten trips to Haines and Skagway

Most Read