Arts & Culture » 1st Thursday

XO Boise

Photographer Michael Falvey at Art Source Gallery


A couple of months ago, the local fuzz took on the very important task of cracking down on the First Thursday free vino tradition (BW, July 12, "Put The Wine Down"). Goodness knows that art-crawl crowd is a rough one when you mix half a glass of Chardonnay with signed and numbered limited edition prints. So if the heat has cooled on the crackdown and you do happen to encounter a glass of wine on your First Thursday stroll through downtown galleries, and that glass of wine is free, sip it quickly and discreetly and don't cause any trouble. You don't want John Law to have to come back down there and break it up.

First Thursday may be in a dry period, but that hasn't dampened its, er, spirits too much. One highlight of this month's First Thursday event is happening at Art Source Gallery, who will display a series of Boise-themed photographs by Michael Favley in his new "Postcards from Home" exhibition. Falvey talked to Boise Weekly (in what turned out to be his first-ever interview) about the show, his work and what drives his art.

Falvey is 53 years old and has been serious about photography for the last seven years. "I never knew what I wanted to do when I grew up," he says. But a few years back, he was going through some old family pictures and came across photos he'd taken at age 5, 9, 15, 20 and so on, and he saw that these photos weren't just snapshots; they had interesting perspectives and an art to them. "It dawned on me: I want to be a photographer!" he said. "I'd always been taking pictures and didn't know it."

His wife encouraged him to enter some photos in the fair, and friends like painter Fred Choate and photographer Ed Scott encouraged him to explore his art. Scott, Falvey says, actually took him into Art Source and made him apply for membership. The photos that he used to give away without a thought began selling.

Today, Falvey is making up for lost time. He is self-taught, and he says he learns by research and by doing, as well as from working alongside professional photographers such as fellow Idaho Photographic Workshop members and in workshops like the one IPW put on last year in Idaho City with a couple of nationally known photographers. Last year, a photo he took of the desert behind Camel's Back Park became the cover of the Boise City Visitor's Guide, and he has sold photos to buyers around the country. Like most of us, he has his day job, but his passion and growing vocation is his photography. He has photographs on display at the Gallery at Hyde Park and at the the Art Source Gallery space at the Boise airport, and is a member of Gypsy Gallery and the Idaho Photographic Workshop.

He has also been a member of Art Source Gallery for about four years, and he is their featured artist this month.

Talking about the reason behind "Postcards From Home," Falvey says that he occasionally has a booth selling matted and framed prints at the Saturday Market, and the images that people like and buy the most are the pictures of familiar local landmarks, like the Depot or images from downtown. "I do more what you'd call 'art stuff,' too," Falvey says, "but what seems to be popular with people here and visitors is something identifiable as Boise." Because of this popularity, Falvey is starting to offer greeting cards and postcards, too.

In the 24 images in "Postcards from Home" up at Art Source Gallery this month, Falvey says the images didn't necessarily come from a conscious plan. "I will work on a photograph and it ends up the way it ends up," he says. He might put 20 hours of work into a piece before it's done. As for what he captures, he says, "I will just go out and walk, not know what I'm going to see," adding, "and hopefully I see something interesting and take a picture of it."

The show's take on the Boise theme varies widely and present Boise in several different ways. One of the images is an abstract view of the fountain in front of City Hall that's been digitally altered and manipulated; another is simply the inside corner of a public bathroom, facing the wall. He took another from Bogus Basin Road, looking down into the winter inversion. "Everything is just white," Falvey says of the image. One of his most popular images that will be on display is a picture Falvey took of a locomotive in front of the Depot. The steam coming up out of the engine is so perfect, it looks manipulated, but it isn't--just a matter of taking the right picture at the right time. Another of Falvey's most popular images is Waiting On Idaho Street, a picture of people in front of the mural at the Record Exchange. "The people blend into the mural and the mural comes out."

As to why he takes so many pictures of the area, Falvey says, "I just enjoy Boise so much. I just walk around and take pictures. When you're walking and you're actually looking but not knowing what you're looking for, it's amazing what you see." To Falvey, his art is a matter of looking from different angles, different perspectives, and taking the time to really look at the world around him.

Falvey's creations are his own from start to finish. He takes pictures on a digital professional Canon camera and prints his photos on a professional series Epson printer using pigmented inks, which he says will last longer than a traditional photo. He cuts his own acid-free cotton mats and frames his work using UV-protective glass. "I have creative control from beginning to end."

Not long ago, Falvey was remarking to a friend of his, commercial photographer and Art Source member Steve Welsh, on how lucky he'd been to get shots like that one of the locomotive at the Depot. Says Falvey, his friend replied, "There's no luck without a camera."

"I always have a camera with me," says Falvey.

Michael Falvey's First Thursday reception will be from 5-9 p.m. at Art Source Gallery, 1015 W. Main St., 331-3374, New gallery artists Melissa Williams, Alan Giltzow and Lisa Mattson will be on hand as well, and there will be beverages, hors d'oeuvres and live music by Jennifer Burke.

For more information about Falvey's work, visit his Web site,, or e-mail him at