So, which conservative is being bullied, oppressed and silenced today? If you guessed "all of them," you're probably right, but specifically, today's most victimized conservative is painter Julian Raven.
You may have heard of Mr. Raven, especially if you follow a lot of smart-alecs on Twitter, because his painting "Unafraid and Unashamed" was featured prominently in this year's C-PAC.
Is it a good painting? Not really. But that's no reason it shouldn't hang in the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, is it?
Pro-Trump Artist Julian Raven Is Waging Legal War Against the Smithsonian for Rejecting His Magnum Opus
Yes, conservatives, as we all know, despise frivolous lawsuits, so ipso facto this case must have merit.
So, om what legal grounds is Mr. Raven suing? Well, obviously the Smithsonian has violated his freedom of speech by declining to hang his painting in the nation's most prestigious gallery.
The artist has been mired in a legal battle with the Smithsonian since 2017, claiming that the government institution is violating his First Amendment rights.
And right he is! It says right there in the Constitution, that if you make a portrait of a prominent American you have an absolute right to see that portrait hang in one of the nation's premiere museums! Unafraid and Unaware should be hanging right next to these portraits of Martin Luther King which MUST be in the Smithsonian somewhere, right? Because artists have a First Amendment right to be displayed in the Smithsonian, right?
“I have this incredible, unprecedented case that may go all the way to the Supreme Court,” painter Julian Raven tells The Daily Beast.
Well, I'll give you "unprecedented." Because I'm pretty sure there's never been a lawsuit this dumb before. And "incredible" in the sense of "hard to believe?" Yeah, I guess I gotta give you that one too. And I just honestly can't think of any scenario in which the Supreme Court of the United States of America would decline to hear such a landmark case. I'm sure they don't have any more pressing matters to adjudicate.
Raven initially requested that the National Portrait Gallery display his painting to coincide with Trump’s 2017 inauguration. But he said that the gallery’s director, Kim Sajet, told him that it was “too political” and “too big” and, generally, just not very good.“The last thing she said to me was ‘it’s no good,’” Raven said.
That's it? "no good?" And just because it's "no good" you think it shouldn't be in a museum? What is this, communist Russia?
In Russia, painting hangs you!
Soon thereafter, Raven filed a lawsuit against the Smithsonian, claiming that the museum had infringed on his First Amendment rights and his Fifth Amendment right to due process.
Wait. Due process? Has your painting been arrested? Is there some possibility that your painting could be imprisoned? Without a fair trial? Geez, it's worse than I thought! What is this, Nazi Germany?
First they came for the good paintings.
And I did not speak out because my painting was not good.
Raven, who lives in upstate New York, first got the idea for his enormous Trump painting in 2015 when he saw the then-presidential candidate on television.“I just had the words go through my mind: ‘unafraid and unashamed,’” Raven told The Daily Beast. “The image in my mind was this soaring flagpole, a U.S. flag pole falling to the ground. Right before it falls to the ground, an eagle swoops in and snatches it.”
Ironic you should use the word "unafraid" when discussing Trump and an eagle.
I have to agree with you on one point though. When I saw Il Douche running for President, I too thought of the word "unashamed." Well, technically it was "shameless," but tomato/tomahto.
After being fascinated by the image, Raven got to work.
Um, you spelled "hallucination" wrong.
Raven, who describes himself as a “starving artist,” says the painting and its pro-Trump politics have also damaged his livelihood by pigeonholing him as a political artist. In 2018, Raven said, he sold just one painting.
Well surely there's someone you can sue for that! Maybe the deep state? The Democrats? Maybe you could sue President McCheese for sucking so hard that no one wants to buy a painting from an artist associated with him. The point is, there must be someone else to blame. Nothing is ever your fault if you're a conservative. There is no legitimate reason anyone would not want to plunk down hard-earned money for masterpieces like this:
Raven hasn’t given up. He has a pending appeal in the D.C. Circuit court of appeals, premised on a complicated theory about the Smithsonian’s legal status within the federal government. Raven argues that the Smithsonian is not a part of the federal government, but is instead a trust run by the government. That means, Raven claims, “guaranteeing free speech participatory rights to the beneficiaries, we the people!”
Oooh. That does not seem like a strong legal argument. Now I'm no fancy big-city lawyer, but it seems to me that if you're going to claim that the government is stifling your free speech (by not elevating your painting to national treasure status) it might be best not to claim that the entity doing the stifling is not actually part of the government.
Raven says the quality of his work shouldn’t be relevant to whether his painting is exhibited at the gallery.
Yeah, what do they have standards or something? Talk about elitist! I also believe my portraiture has every right to hang in the nation's premiere gallery.
Honest Abe never looked so noble!
He compares his painting to a 1990 caricature of Trump from The Nation that’s already in the museum’s collection, which he says “looks like a guy drew it on a napkin in a restaurant.”“It’s not an archive of great paintings, it’s an archive of portraits,” Raven said.
Right. Every portrait ever produced in the United States is supposed to be hanging in that gallery. The good ones, the lousy ones, the ridiculous ones. Do you think people travel to D.C. from all corners of the country to go to the National Portrait Gallery and only see good paintings? I know I'd be disappointed if I waited in line to go in to the gallery and only saw paintings of "quality" done by "artists" with "talent." What am I, French?
If Mr. Raven's legal arguments don't seem compelling enough, just listen to the story of how the painting "Uninformed and Unsound" came about.
July 9th, 2015 The vision 'Unafraid And Unashamed' Happened.
Sitting listening to Donald Trump speak about the real problems facing the US and looking at a photo online, the see [sic] an American flag falling to the ground and an eagle swoop in [sic] snatching/rescuing the flag as the words 'Unafraid And Unashamed' as if on a ticker-tape pass along the screen of my mind.[sic]
Weeks Pass... The Vision Lingers
Daily the vision would be present, the image of Trump's face the Bald Eagle snatching the falling flag. Three elements and a snatching scenario that played over and over again.
Finally, just paint the image already August 19th, 2015
After weeks of meditating on this recurring vision there was only one way to make it stop, paint the painting.
I finally sat down to work on the eagle on my computer when my 13 year old daughter approached me and asked If I was working on a sculpture of an eagle. I said no. Without me saying anything except it was a painting, my daughter turned around and said "Dad, why dont you paint the painting of the eagle and give it to Donald Trump so when he becomes President he can hang it in the Whitehouse'. Wow! I was speechless!
Yeah, I would be, too. If I was an unsuccessful painter whose daughter - a teenager, not a toddler - thought that I could just paint something and just stroll over to the most famous person in America who is surrounded by Secret Service and his own personal goons, and just hand him that painting so he could hang it in the WHITE HOUSE! Yeah, I'd be a bit taken aback, too. You know what I wouldn't do? I wouldn't say to myself "by God, the kid's got a good point! I should just walk up to the Republican nominee for President and hand him my stupid painting of an eagle. But wait! I have an even better idea! I'll make that painting 16-feet across and 300 pounds with his stupid ugly dumb face plastered onto the left half of the canvas and I'll give him that monstrosity! Surely a man like that, a man who sits on a gold-plated toilet, would be hasppy to have random strangers approach him in public with comically oversized paintings that they expect him to accept with gratitude! He is a man of the people, after all. He hasn't lost the common touch. Maybe he'll put it in his personal 747 for safekeeping and fly it down to his gilded penthouse apartment to store until he is able to have it brought to the WHITE HOUSE!" That is not something I would have done and I tip my hat to you, sir, for having done it!
Coincidence or Providence?
My daughter's words had left me stunned. After weeks, the only day I sat down to work on the painting other than internally, my daughter makes a statement, that had all the indications of prescient knowledge, beyond just a good idea.
Well, honestly, I'm not sure it was a good idea at all seeing as how no one seems to want this fucking painting, you never did give it to Cheeto Mussolini, and it supposedly has damaged your career. Seems like maybe whimsical 13-year-olds aren't the best source of career advice?
The Next Morning, August 20, 2015
Early the next morning I go to CNN and to see what Trump was saying that day. There was a video segment 'I had a visitor today', so I clicked play. As the video rolled, it was about a Time Mag photoshoot that morning. Suddenly there was Trump standing in the middle of his office with a Bald Eagle perched on his left arm! I was blown away! I thought the photo was a photoshopped image, I was so dumbfounded.
I Believed Trump Would Be President!
I was stunned, staring at the screen I knew I had to paint the painting and I knew Trump would become President.
Before long I was in my studio building the 7x15' stretcher frame for the canvas. What was I going to paint, I did not know, I just followed the impulses that kept driving me to painting the vision of my mind.
Wait, you had no idea what you were going to paint? That explains a lot. Maybe next time, a rough draft?
Nearly 600 Grueling Hours
The grueling task was painting from scratch an image that was only bare bones in my mind. The details would come as I kept painting, nothing was planned out, the entire composition was developed on the canvas.
Over and over again I painting and repainted [sic] the image as I tried to make it right. It was nothing but a monumental struggle to get it right, since I had never embarked on such a work of art.
You've never embarked on a work of this type. And you think "well, my first attempt should probably be given to the future President of the United States. I'm sure he'll want to hang it in the National Portrait Gallery!"
Oh, and there's apparently a video if you want a guide to the hidden symbolism in "Unkempt and Uncouth." I couldn't find it, the video that was embedded on his website is just like a montage of him painting and taking the damn thing around. Anyway, these are, according to artnet.com , screenshots from the video:
Raven goes on to describe some of the symbolism he’s painted into the work, including a border wall with an open door “for legal immigrants to get through,” a curled-up fetus, and the frayed end of a loose rope meant to evoke the snake motif of the “Don’t Tread on Me” American Revolution flag.
Okay, so what have we learned today? I think the main takeaway from today's discussion is that if you are a conservative, any time you don't get exactly what you want, any time anyone doesn't accomodate your every whim, every time someone disagrees with you or criticizes you, YOU ARE A VICTIM! If you are a conservative, you get to play the oppressed minority, no matter that you are a hetero, white, Christian male in a country run by hetero white Christian males. And whenever anything doesn't go your way, it's not because of any failing on your part. It's not because you simply weren't good enough. It's because the odds are stacked against you by the darn lib'ruls who somehow run everything despite not controlling any of the three branches of government nor most stahehouses or boardrooms.Everything's against you if you're a conservative and nothing is ever your fault. Right, Mr. Raven?
He says that the reason his work is stuck in litigation and not on the wall of one of the premier galleries in the nation’s capital is strictly a matter of politics. The art world, he insists, “is controlled by very strong political ideologies on the left.”