Åarhus Gallery’s guest artist for September is the distinguished and seriously prolific Robert Shetterly, whose work will be featured Tuesday, Aug. 31 through Sept. 26. The public is invited to an opening reception Friday, Sept. 3 from 5 to 8 p.m.

Shetterly was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1946 and although he graduated from Harvard College with a degree in English literature, the drawing courses he had taken at the time changed the direction of his creative life from written word to image. Moving to Maine in 1970, he began a career as an illustrator, drawing for the Maine Times newspaper, Audubon Adventures children’s newspaper and on to illustrating more than 30 books, as well as having shown work in art galleries around Maine and elsewhere.

Shetterly’s prints and paintings are housed in collections across the United States and Europe. It may be true, however, that he is most widely known for his evocative series of painted portraits called Americans Who Tell the Truth, which has toured the country for more than seven years and is scheduled for the next two. In 2006, a book of the portraits by the same name won the top award of the International Reading Association for intermediate non-fiction.

Since 1990, Shetterly has been the president of the Union of Maine Visual Artists and producer of the UMVA’s Maine Masters Project, an ongoing series of video documentaries about Maine artists.

The work that Åarhus Gallery is highlighting for this show is Shetterly’s more personal work. These paintings come from two very distinct periods in the artist’s life, some “from when I believed my obligation as an artist was to be as honestly ambiguous as I could be about the baffling mysteries of life, to revel in the blind alley narratives that must be solved by each person imaginatively and idiosyncratically.”

Many of the paintings come from a more recent time when Shetterly has been dedicated to doing didactic work because the earth is in such a precarious situation, because governments have failed to care for nature and people have failed to require that of their governments. These recent paintings are not didactic but they do reflect that mood.

“What’s curious to me is how similar they are to the earlier paintings. Art allows itself to be used for teaching as well as exploring. One can go back and forth and remain the same. We paint not to express ourselves but to find out what it is we want to express,” he said.

The works of Åarhusians Ingrid Ellison, Annadeene Fowler, Kevin Johnson, Mark Kelly, Richard Mann, Abbie Read, Wesley Reddick and Willy Reddick also will be on display.

Åarhus Gallery is located at 50 Main St. and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information and a slideshow of the current exhibit, visit aarhusgallery.com. The gallery’s phone number is 338-0001.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to dernest@villagesoup.com.