“You have to be in a fast boat with a good driver,” said photographer Sam Murfitt, describing one way to get great action shots of racing boats.

Having spent the last five years documenting different aspects of Maine’s working waterfront including lobsterboat races, the races almost synonymous with Jonesport, Murfitt had thousands of choices when asked to exhibit his work at Jonesport’s Peabody Memorial Library’s Art in the Library summer-long exhibition.

He picked portraits of the Beal family of boatbuilders: Isaac with Christopher, which won over 10 races; Calvin finishing the last wooden boat built on Beals; Willis preparing his traps for the season on his dock; Osmond with his grandson Eric Blackwood in front of his shop; and Merle with Silver Dollar, in which, Murfitt said, “He lobstered and took a tour of the east coast and up the Mississippi and St. Lawrence.

Murfitt is also showing such delightful images as a dog perched on the trunk roof of a lobster boat, where the dog sits, “rain or shine in any weather.” He added, “We spent about two weeks, maybe more, trying to get that picture: either the light wasn’t right or the boat wasn’t in the right place.” This photographer, who has images in six museums this summer, started taking pictures at age six in Marblehead, Mass. “My father gave me a Brownie,” he said. “I still have it.” Murfitt went on to a career in commercial photography after college and taught at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City.

When you think of Jonesport, you think of boatbuilding, fishing, lobsterboat races; you don’t think of art. Two and a half years ago, though, to take advantage of the influx of artists to the library’s lending area of Jonesport, Beal’s Island, and Addison, it decided to use art to lure people to the library. Since then co-chairs Marshia Brown, Beverly Nichols, and Judy Clapp have produced 15 two-month-long exhibitions since December 2006 and have sold 94 works of art.

Because Jonesport used to be known for its homemade birdhouses, too, the Art in the Library committee decided to bring back the tradition, hold an annual birdhouse competition, and auction off the hand made and decorated birdhouses as a fundraiser for the program. As Brown said, “Art in the Library is a self-supporting program of the library.” This year’s fundraiser, “Birdhouses of the Moosabec” had 43 works of at on exhibit and for sale. Its 54 wild, crazy, delightful renditions of birdhouses, will be sold by silent auction on July 18.

“We really want to promote the local artists” Brown said, “because many of the local artists have not had exposure and gallery exhibitions.” She gave as an example, “Ray Beal, an excellent photographer, was so shy he couldn’t talk to anyone. After two years, he sells tickets.  He’ll do any job that needs to be done.  To see him come out of the shyness is …” she stopped, searching for words, then said of taking on the job of chairing Art in the Library, “It’s the most fun volunteer job I’ve ever had.” Brown is a long-time artist who used to have her own gallery.

Some of the artists, like Brown, are professionals who had shown before. Ken Graslie, from South Addison, a trained, MFA-degreed artist supports himself with his pointillist-influenced style of painting. “I got bored and wanted to experiment with other forms of realism,” he said, “then got tired of that, too, so started doing geometric abstracts, which morphed into realistic format with geometric form.” Looking around Graslie’s house, a series he did of Blue Hill Fair vendors shows his commercial illustration background. In other paintings, he changed from dots to squares and in another, to bubbles. He also exhibits at the Caterpillar Hill Gallery in Sedgwick and does outdoor art shows in Southwest Harbor.

Self-taught plein air artist Valerie Aponik moved to Maine in 1976 as a back-to-the-lander/emergency room nurse. Now retired, she and her ER physician husband moved to Great Wass Island, off Beals. Her subjects include her neighbors: 81-year-old Elmer Beal and his daughter and sternman for 12 years, Joan. She paints the two repairing “the wrecks” as Elmer calls his old traps.

“Painting on the spot excites me,” Aponik said of the day a mink ran across the wharf while Elmer worked. She said, “Elmer never stood still,” meaning she couldn’t ask him to hold a pose. “He talked about how much a traps costs.” He told her he’d fished for 65 years and that his grandfather built the lobster pound 100 years ago.

Among the images photographer and retired postmaster Jean Guptill exhibited was a portrait of her boatbuilder husband, Lee, and son, Ira, who also races.

Despite an increasing number of seasonal residents and retirees, the Jonesport-Beals waterfront remains a real working one. Aponik said, “You look out and see fishing boats, very few yachts, maybe five sailboats at the most. The harbor is chock full of fishing boats.” Active library and art patron Dorothy Look, who owns a mid-19th-century fish cannery, which is now O. W. Look & Son, a wholesale lobster buying station, echoed many when she said of the working waterfront, “We have to keep it going. We’re part of a dying breed. We’ve been fishing ever since the Pilgrims.”

The Peabody Memorial Library, 162 Maine St., Jonesport, is open Tues., Wed, Thurs, and Sat. 10-2 and Thurs. 6-8 pm. For more information call 497-3003 or go to: www.peabodymemorial.com.