Julian Raven is an artist and writer. His paintings are bright, realistic images of patriotic scenes and political symbols overlaid with an aura of idealism, like the pink cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin in springtime. His writing is embodied in the newly published book ‘Odious and Cerberus,’ which is part memoir and part storytelling.
The writing is crisp, clear, and heartfelt. It’s a deeply personal account of his thoughts, actions, and fights with bureaucracy. It’s a long read at 456 pages but moves quickly and you are riding with him.
Mr. Raven is a committed Christian. His life’s pursuits and his words are imbued with strong religious beliefs and Christian overtones.
His story started with a painting submission to the National Portrait Gallery in Washington with the intent that it be displayed in the exhibition of presidential portraits called ‘American’s Presidents.’ The seven-foot-by-fifteen-foot 2015 painting titled ‘Unafraid and Unashamed’ is a portrait of President Trump beside an eagle with widespread wings, a faded American flag presented in reverse, a rising sun and many symbols referring to issues including abortion, Israel, immigration, and Messianic prophecy.
The painting was rejected and Mr. Raven’s subsequent communications with the museum and Smithsonian Institution officials make up the book.
He filed a first-amendment free speech lawsuit against the Smithsonian, an action that transpired over three years and resulted in the Supreme Court rejecting the case. The lawsuit inspired him to research the Smithsonian’s history. “A glaring question became apparent to me during my research,” he said. “Is the Smithsonian a private or public institution?”
Mr. Raven’s current appeal is to the American people. In the book’s next to last chapter he proposes amendments to the Smithsonian Act of 1846, which originally established the institution. He seeks a Congressional declaration stating that the Smithsonian is a private institution, not a government entity. He supports amendments along those same lines that have been proposed by Sen Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Del Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). “These Congressional representatives are pushing the same amendments I seek. They show I’m not just some guy making waves. They actually legitimize my cause,” he said.
The book features black-and-white illustrations that add color and art. It’s always nice to see pictures in text. Charles Dickens made a point of hiring good illustrators for his novels and fussed a great deal over the images’ quality. Mr. Raven selected and photoshopped the drawings and photographs that illustrate his book.
Another fun feature is the parallel allegory he wove in the text. He climbs Mt Justlaw and endures hardships and sufferings endemic to rugged winter mountaineering. “How do I tell a story that many people might find boring?” he wondered. He decided to run an allegory alongside the main story taking the reader on an adventure and simulating his endurance and perseverance.
Not all readers will appreciate the Christian references or conservative viewpoints as this Jewish and liberal reader did not.
Nor will all readers sympathize with Mr. Raven’s premise because museums are by nature juried exhibitions. Curators and museum staff select artwork out of a vast assemblage of pieces and a majority will not be displayed. This selection process is the crux of Mr. Raven’s campaign. “It is the basis for my fifth amendment due process claim because the processes and standards of portraiture acceptance at the Smithsonian were completely ignored,” he said.
Nevertheless, it’s important to read, know about and understand diverse viewpoints in order to be a knowledgeable, sophisticated and empathetic human being. So, yes, go ahead, buy and read this book!
Aug 4, 2022
Audrey Hoffer, author of this 2020 article in the Washington Post Magazine: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/these-conservative-artists-are-navigating-a-largely-liberal-field/2020/10/30/c22bd32c-eee6-11ea-ab4e-581edb849379_story.html
Odious And Cerberus: An American Immigrant's Odyssey and his Free-Speech Legal War against Smithsonian Corruption
714 Baldwin St.
Copyright © 2022 Odious And Cerberus: An American Immigrant's Odyssey and his Free-Speech Legal War against Smithsonian Corruption - All Rights Reserved.
Powered by GoDaddy