The town of American Falls, Idaho, where photographer Steve Davis grew up, is a long drive east of Boise, a long way from Olympia (where now he teaches at Evergreen), and a long distance from coastal prosperity. With a population just over 4,000, situated by a dam on the Snake River, it's a red-state ag town that Davis regards affectionately, without condescension. The mobile homes, roadside food vendors, and boarded-up storefronts in As American Falls aren't necessarily harbingers of rural decline. (Though a grizzly mural warns some nearby cheerleaders, "He only bites . . . meth consumes!") Unlike many old frontier outposts in the American West, the town isn't shrinking. The bars and church bazaars still have people in them; this is a place of stoic survival and endurance. In fact, the whole town was relocated in 1925 when the dam was built, and its old foundations lie under the lake, like a drowned twin. And there's mystery beneath the pressing blue sky, a haunted quality. A giant neon cross illuminates a frozen, empty cul-de-sac. On a football field, soft-focus prom couples stand like the toy figures on a wedding cake. Only the crisp autumn moon overhead is sharp. The kids will graduate and maybe leave—another precious crop, like soybeans and potatoes, eked out of the soil and Snake.
James Harris Gallery, 312 Second Ave. S., 903-6220, jamesharrisgallery.com. Free. 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Tues.–Sat. Ends Feb. 26.