The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Presidential Portrait

There’s an interesting story behind this image.

Sure, President Obama’s busy trying to solve the nation’s problems.

But Megan McCluer and her husband, Michael Heffner, would like just a minute of his time to settle a mystery: As a young man, did he sit for a portrait painted by an obscure Los Angeles artist? And what’s up with the shirt?

Obama supporters McCluer and Heffner bought the colorful 32-inch x 41-inch framed painting last fall to help raise money for the candidate’s tiny Ojai headquarters.

Scrawled on the back is a notation that says: “BARACK OBAMA (casual attire).” Strokes of teal and burgundy provide a vibrant contrast to Obama’s even more colorful striped shirt, evoking a late ’70s disco vibe.

Indeed, the portrait appears to be the 44th president in his early 20s, casually seated in white slacks and that mod shirt, stylishly open at the collar. Little is known about the artist, Alan Adams, other than that he worked in Los Angeles for many years and, possibly, briefly in Hawaii.

It is believed that Adams died about 10 years ago, leaving behind works that were sold off by relatives. How and when he might have met Obama remains frustratingly unknown for the oil painting’s new owners.

Obama aides said they were unable to run down the story of the portrait and added that it was “not likely” that Obama would have time to address it.

So, what do you think? Is it him?

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