Smithsonian Institution Rejects Elmira Artist's Trump Painting

ELMIRA, N.Y. (18 NEWS) - - A local Elmira artist faces rejection by the Smithsonian Institution for his painting of Donald Trump.

You've most likely seen the image while driving down Clemens Center Parkway. It's gained national attention and has even been recognized by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Artist Julian Raven still isn't happy though, because the museum said it will not put it on display.

Raven was born in London, raised in Spain, and now calls himself a newborn citizen of the United States. Currently living in Elmira, he works out of his large studio on Baldwin Street. He purchased the building in 2014 and transformed it after removing thousands of pounds of trash, wood, and steel.

He became somewhat of a celebrity at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this summer saying there was a line of 200 journalists waiting to interview him by his painting which he calls 'Unafraid and Unashamed.'

The painting weighs 300 lbs and stands seven feet tall by 15 feet wide. Raven says the director of the National Portrait Gallery gave him a call providing reasons on why it wouldn't work saying it was too big, didn't reflect an original portrait of life, and was too pro-Trump.
"I'm like 'And the Obama poster is not pro-Obama?!'" Raven said. "The description credits the red, white, blue, and patriotic colors in the description of the Obama poster. Why would they accept that level of patriotism, but my painting's too patriotic?"

The Obama 'Hope' poster was on display in the museum during the president's inauguration.

A spokesperson for the museum says Raven's painting wasn't accepted because the Smithsonian already has a painting it plans on using for the President-elect's inauguration.

"There's a process that we go through when we acquire a work of art, and it has to be decided by the museum's curators and director, so it's a process," Smithsonian Institution Chief Spokesperson Linda St. Thomas said. "We really don't need to go through such a process since we already have our own."

"Listen, I can accept rejection if it's legitimate," Raven said. "If you give me an informed, educated, honest opinion, and you write it down, and I can process it, and you say 'Okay, it doesn't qualify, because of this, this, and this' okay, fair enough. I can accept that even if it may hurt."

Raven has appealed the decision and is hoping for the best.

The Smithsonian adds that because of Donald Trump's prominence in New York real estate, the collection has four works of him in the museum.

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