Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery Decision Appeal

Julian Marcus Raven
2524 County Route 60
Elmira, New York 14901
December 7th 2016



Office of the Regents
Smithsonian Institution
1000 Jefferson Drive SW #113
Washington, D.C. 20560

To The Board Of Regents Of The Smithsonian Institution
CC: Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.; CC: Vice President Elect Mike Pence;
CC: Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.; CC: Senator John Boozman;
CC: Senator Patrick J. Leahy; CC: Senator David Perdue; CC: Representative Xavier Becerra; CC: Representative Tom Cole; CC: Representative Sam Johnson; CC: Barbara M. Barrett CC: Steve Case; CC: John Fahey; CC: Shirley Ann Jackson; CC: Robert P. Kogod CC: Risa J. Lavizzo-Mourey; CC: Michael M. Lynton; CC: John W. McCarter, Jr. CC: David M. Rubenstein

Porter N. Wilkinson,
CC: Chief Of Staff To The Regents,
Rachel Parker,
CC: Deputy Chief of Staff to the Regents
CC: Smithsonian Legal Counsel Department
P.O. Box 37012, Washington, DC 20013-7012 
CC: Director Kim Sajet

Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery



Your Eminent Members Of The Board Of Regents Of The Smithsonian Institution,


My name is Julian Raven, artist and painter of the Trump Portrait ‘Unafraid And Unashamed’.  It is with the most pressing urgency that I am writing you due to the fast approaching inauguration of President Elect Donald J. Trump on January 20th, 2017.  The reason for the urgency is my intention of showing my painting as a historic tribute to Mr. Trump’s unprecedented election campaign at the National Portrait Gallery.

Due to the purpose of the National Portrait Gallery to be a pictorial record of individuals who have “…made significant contributions to the history, development, and culture of the people of the United States, and of the artists who created such portraiture and statuary." [i] It is without question that an artistic, pictorial record must be made at the National Portrait Gallery that embodies, captures and expresses this most remarkable presidential election campaign because of its unquestionable contribution to our remarkable American history!

There will be many portraits painted of President Elect Trump, there are many portraits of Mr. Donald Trump as a private citizen from before the campaign, but there is only one positive pro-Trump portrait/painting of note and recognition.  The painting was created by a private citizen of these United States, back in the summer/fall of 2015.  It embodies the candidate, vision, passions, desires, hopes, symbols, patriotism, faith and will of the American people by graphically and prophetically depicting Mr. Donald J. Trump as the man who would become the 45th President of the United States in a dramatic composition whose narrative embodies our most cherished and sacred aspirations as Americans.

This historic creative journey began back on July the 9th 2015, when most people considered Mr. Trump’s candidacy to be a joke!  The details of the journey are attached as part of the application that I sent to the Director of The National Portrait Gallery, Kim Sajet.  Due to the unfortunate response to my application from Director Sajet I have written this appeal at her prompting, since Director Sajet’s final words to me were, ‘Your application will go no further, I am the director and you can appeal it all you want.’

This very surprising and disturbing personal phone call from Director Sajet took place on December the 1st, 2016 at 11:34 A.M. and it lasted for 11 minutes.[ii]  Without any cordial, polite, official, formal, educated, substantive or even procedurally accurate written decision or response from the Director of the National Portrait Gallery to my 20 plus page application that was forwarded to her by the Director Of The Affiliations Department Harold Closter, my application was rejected!   The application included official letters of recommendation from New York elected representatives of over 200,000 citizens; Congressman Tom Reed, Senator Tom O’Mara, GOP chairs, Elmira Mayor Mandell, Councilwoman Moss and others including radio host Frank Acomb and Art Collectors Davis/Gates.  Director Sajet embarked on an undocumented[iii], unofficial, biased and personally opinionated rejection of my painting. 

One would think that the very standards for acceptance of portraits established by Congress in 1963 would be at the forefront of Director Sajet’s objections?  It would also seem appropriate that a work of art such as mine be examined in person due to its scale.  The director’s first objection was about the painting’s size!  My protestations at the arbitrariness of her objection produced an eventual backtracking and apology from the director!  Nowhere in the established standards by Congress for acceptance for a painting was scale ever mentioned!  But due to the personally biased opinion that was rendered by Director Sajet, scale was her first mistake!

The size, nearly 7x15 foot painting (7” x 8’ x 16’ and nearly 300lbs in weight in its beautiful decorative red, white and blue frame) is part of the Trump narrative in the portrait, which obviously Director Sajet cared little for!  As an artist who paints huge paintings in my 6000 square foot studio in upstate New York and who has always enjoyed Donald Trump’s propensity for doing things ‘YUGE!’, our personalities coincided!  ‘YUGE’ was to become part of the historic campaign and part of many of Mr. Trump’s comments.  He became the master of ‘YUGE’, his lifestyle, his architectural exploits, his plane and ultimately his campaign can be described as ‘YUGE!’.  Thus a portrait/painting that appropriately expresses Mr. Trump’s personality would by nature be ‘YUGE’!

Since the experience of seeing the huge (105 sq. ft. surface area.) painting in person cannot in any way be appreciated through highly reduced and compressed digital images of only a few square inches on an iPhone or comparatively small computer screens, an informed, honest and objective decision should be made after seeing the painting in person, one would think?  The many, many, incredible personal responses to the painting testify to this reality.   As the artist, I have had the privilege to watch this happen across the country from NY to LA and throughout the 2015-2016 election campaign. I have been moved by the way in which the painting produced so many powerful and positive emotional responses.  Even by those who did not like Mr. Trump, obviously not all of them, but I received so many positive compliments even from Bernie Sander’s supporters, Black Lives Matter protesters, democrats and independents.  To note the respect the painting has commanded I share this other story.  Over the past 7 months a 12x25 foot vinyl copy of the painting has hung on the front of my art studio, which is located in a low income, highly democratic area.  And although the banner and I were initially threatened, 7 months later the banner remains intact!

Art has the power to transcend the typical political discourse, producing positive dialogue and understanding.  The positive, visionary hope filled image of the portrait inspires people, commands respect and educates since it is layered with symbolic imagery that tell our American story!  Our Nation is in need of healing and restoration.  My painting is a tool that has accomplished that, in the many conversations I have had and to the degree that it has been seen across this country. The painting’s destiny to continue this work now rests in your hands.

With this appeal, I am requesting that the Board Of Regents issue an immediate ‘stay of judgment’ in the hasty and biased rejection of my application by Director Sajet.  I hereby petition that your Eminencies give an honest and thoughtful consideration to the remarkable and historic story that accompanies the painting.  That non-biased and artistic opinions be given to the dramatic nature of the manner of inspiration and spiritual depth through which I was inspired to paint the painting.  Also the nearly 600 hours of at times agonizing artistic struggle in the execution of the painting be included in the consideration.  Consideration must be given to the resulting effect and the life transforming power upon my personal life as an artist, patriot, political activist and newborn citizen of my new home, the United States of America.  I request that consideration be given to the totally unique nature of the painting, since it is not a stylistic reproduction of any other portrait or artistic period.  It is unique, and I can testify to that, having been to all of the major museums in England, France, Holland, Spain and New York and personally seen a great number of the worlds most acclaimed artworks, as well as having studied the history of art.  I request that thoughtful and respectful consideration be given to the letters of support by elected representatives and others who have personally witnessed this story in one degree or another. Also, that the historic journey and the way the image of the painting was woven into the fabric of this historic presidential campaign be weighed in this process.[iv]

Finally, that based upon the standards for acceptance for portraits to be accepted into the National Portrait Gallery and because the Congress of The United States has decreed; “…the standards for accepting portraits varied considerably from other galleries. Even today, in every instance, the historical significance of the subject is judged before the artistic merit of the portrait, or the prominence of the artist.”[v], that this standard be applied to my painting. 

Since personal bias can affect one’s judgment, if the predetermined Congressional standards are ignored in these matters of historic artistic determination, we must remember that this process was established for the sole purpose of securing a historical and pictorial archive of our American story for this or any other particular time in our history.  And if yourselves or any other individual can find a portrait that better represents, captures and embodies the dramatic election campaign of now President Elect Donald J. Trump then by all means I will accept the determination of the Board Of Regents in that selection.  Most Eminent members of the Board Of Regents, you have been entrusted as civil servants with a grave, honorable and patriotic duty to most accurately and truthfully tell our story to our children and to our children’s children!

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions. And please consider this appeal also as an open invitation to my art studio in Elmira, New York to personally experience the Trump Portrait and Painting ‘Unafraid And Unashamed’ to assist in making your final decision 

Please be considerate of the fact that January 20th, 2017 is fast approaching and it would be most fitting to pictorially and artistically celebrate and coincide with this historic inauguration of the 45th president Of The United States, President Elect Donald J. Trump, by having my portrait on display in the National Portrait Gallery.  The National Portrait Gallery established precedent for this type of tribute and event on January the 17th, 2009 when the grassroots produced Obama ‘Hope’ poster by Yosi Sergant and artist Shepherd Fairey was displayed just in time for then President Elect Barack Obama’s historic election campaign!

Yours sincerely,

Julian Raven







[iii] Personally I would tend to believe that the phone call record exists somewhere in the NSA or some other data and intelligence recording facility!



The Trump Painting By Artist Julian Raven from New York.  The Trump Painting was on display at the 2016 RNC in Cleveland New York. The Trump Portrait was seen at the New York Delegation's hotel in the center of Cleveland.  The Trump painting was also part of a 5 second video show at the RNC convention.  The video by Trump Executive Lynne Patton featured the image of the Trump Painting on the side of the Trump Truck.

The Trump Painting and The Trump Presidential Portrait webpage.  The Trump Painting has been on a prophetic journey since its creation back in the summer of 2015. Trump Painting, Trump Portrait and Trump Presidential Painting.  Historic painting by artist Julian Raven, the Trump Painting has been seen across the country.  The Trump Painting portrays Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America.  You may ask where is The Trump Painting located?  The Trump Portrait is presently on show at the artist's studio in Elmira, New York. A copy of The Trump Painting hangs proudly in the new Trump Campaign headquarters located in Trump Tower in New York City. 


The Trump Painting & Portrait, 'Unafraid And Unashamed'The Trump Painting & Portrait, 'Unafraid And Unashamed' Product description: The Trump Painting And Trump Portrait 'Unafraid and Unashamed' By Julian Raven
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