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DRIVING : A Bumper Crop of Vanity Plates

August 23, 1993|PAUL DEAN

You may have seen one California license plate, but you certainly haven't seen 'em all.

Inmate laborers at Folsom state prison are stamping out special-interest plates, the fees from which support causes of former prisoners of war, members of the Legion of Valor, winners of the Medal of Honor and Purple Heart, the environment and the Olympic Training Center.

This year, five more groups have state approval to gather pledges for plates to aid veterans' counseling, a national park, children's rights, arts education and stretches of California's historic highways.

The California Arts Council is 1,500 promises into its campaign to find 5,000 motorists willing to buy a piece of art to bolt to their bumpers by Dec. 31.

No kidding. The Council had artist Wayne Thiebaud paint a sun, sea and beach-scape for its plate. At $20 a plate--call (800) 201-6201 or visit a DMV office for application form--it is inarguably today's wisest investment in functional art.

Purchasers will be in high company. Actor and art collector Sylvester Stallone is a charter supporter of the program.

"Mr. Stallone is ordering a plate for his car," says spokeswoman Angela Dickson. "Just numbers, no vanity message."

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