Stell Shevis of Camden is known for her serigraphs, acrylic paintings and jewel-like fused enamel-on-metal wall pieces. Stell and her late husband William Shevis moved to Maine in 1945, and for the 72 years of their marriage they made a living as artists. They were part of a group that formed Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. Additionally, they were co-founders of Maine Coast Artists Association, now the Center for Maine Contemporary Art. William's work has been shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, among others, and Stell's has been widely shown in the U.S.

Stell recently rediscovered a rich cache of watercolor portraits of local residents that date from the '70s through the '90s and beyond. In a recent conversation she told a little of their history. She and her husband were involved in various painting groups for 40 or 50 years, and in the early days the groups would hire nude models. But the fees went up and all the men dropped out and the remaining women resorted to asking friends and relatives to pose for them "with clothes on." The model portraits were done mostly in winter, as in the summer the groups would paint al fresco. Even though the groups met just once a week, Stell says, the portraits piled up, and while others tossed them out, "I just can't seem to throw things away."

She and her husband had designed their home with equal studio space, with lots of cupboards, and if there was any possibility she could return to a painting later and fix it up, it was stored. When she came across the more than 200 portraits, the women in the Lively Ladies painting group "insisted I have a show."

The portraits are like a kaleidoscope of local history - familiar faces, some named, some enigmatic, some no longer here, all a testament to Stell's skill in portraiture. There are 12 4-by-4-foot panels available for hanging artwork at the Garage Gallery and Stell says she can place 12 portraits on each. She's been pinning them up at home and photographing the panels so that those hanging the show will know how to place them. Stell thinks it best to keep the identities a mystery so that people will be persuaded to come and see the show.

The portraits will be on view through November 8 in an exhibit called "Friendly Faces" at the Garage Gallery, Eastern Tire, 70 Park Street (Route 1) in Rockland. All are invited to stop by and identify a portrait of a friend or family member at the opening reception on Wednesday, October 17, from 5 to 7 p.m.