Humans of Boise


Meet Some of Boise’s Finest

by Drew Dodson

Photos by Kimberlee Miller

Boise is brimming with unique talents and individuals that often slip by undetected right under our noses. You can find Urie Layser doing his best to trace back to his childhood roots by throwing daring stunts off of local bridges and cliffs, and now, his motorcycle. For those meandering city streets, Sara Geiger can be found rhythmically picking strings on her banjo as she busks all over Downtown Boise. Meanwhile, Adam Chavarria can be found rocking out at any number of local bars, restaurants and music venues all over the Treasure Valley about 26 nights out of the month. Sector Seventeen aerosol artist Hawk Sahlein is bringing city buildings and infrastructure to life through dazzling murals. Landscape photographer Sage Bielenberg can be found perusing the foothills daily in pursuit of the perfect sunset—that is, when he’s not taking his show on the road to Stanley, McCall and other scenic destinations littered throughout the region. Collectively, these and other “everyday” Treasure Valley residents help make Boise not just a desirable city to live in, but a home for talents of all varieties.

Sara Geiger – Busking Banjo Player

“Both of my parents are musicians, so music has always been in my family. One day I asked my mom for a banjo for Christmas and, lo and behold, she got me a banjo. It’s been like a stress-release…I just kind of get lost in it. I’m not the best banjo player in all of Boise and I don’t care to be. I don’t need to be rich and famous—it’s a hobby. I like to stay modest because I still have that stage fright in me. I don’t want to make a big scene, I just want to be the weird girl playing banjo in the corner. Each dollar that I get, I feel like I play a little bit better, a little bit louder, a little bit more confident. It’s the most rewarding feeling to have multiple people approach you—strangers approach you—and compliment you on what you’re doing. It puts you in a good mood.”

Sage Bielenberg – Landscape Photographer

“I love the outdoors, I love slowing down and taking it all in and I wanted to capture that. So, I started taking photos and they weren’t good at first, but through repetition it clicked. For me, it’s a stress-reliever, it’s something that makes me excited and gives me adrenaline. It balances me. If I can go out and just shoot and be in nature, it helps with everything. It makes me feel fulfilled. On an average day, I’ll shoot maybe 200 photos and then go through and select the best ones. Every few seconds that pass makes the landscape different. I feel that people don’t get out, don’t disconnect enough. So, I’ve always wanted to inspire people to get out and see the world and to show them that I’m not rich, I still have a 9-5 job, but I make it work and so can you. Even if I only inspire one person, my job is done.”

Addam Chavarria – Solo Guitar Player and Singer

“Growing up we had a keyboard and I taught myself to play by ear. I wanted to play guitar so bad, but I never had a guitar until I was about 16. We got it at a pawn shop for like 30 bucks and I learned how to play that night. My first show I played was at The Reef and that’s where I met most of the people I do shows through now. This is the second year I’ve been able to do it full-time and I’m 24 now. I don’t know, it’s just something I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to put it all in and learn as much as I can because I’m living and breathing music. That’s my life now. Some people see my profession as a dream that is hard to reach or almost impossible. By me succeeding, I’m inspiring others to reach for their dreams.”

Hawk Sahlein – Sector Seventeen Aerosol Artist

“Through graffiti and skateboarding I got into painting and then from there progressed into painting more imagery versus just graffiti lettering. Right around that time Freak Alley was starting and after a while I started doing some pieces down there with Collin [Sector Seventeen partner] and our late friend Jeff. When I’m painting and getting in the zone, listening to music, it’s something that I don’t feel could be replaced by many other things in my life. I look at it as an escape and a place to go to focus on one thing in front of me. When I’m painting for myself or coming up with ideas for projects I’m interested in, it still has that spark that helps me feel my imagination working. It’s a cool place to be. I wouldn’t have gotten this far if Boise hadn’t helped me along the way as a community, finding a place for this kind of art and my style and I’m thankful for that.”

Urie Layser – Acrobatic Stuntman

“I lived in Montana and there was this bridge. I pretty much always wanted to be like my buddy Micah, who was just like this crazy kid. When I started out, I would do whatever Micah would do. He back flipped off a bridge, then I backflipped off of it. I didn’t realize how many times I’ve hucked off of stupid, random stuff until this moment, actually. It’s gotten to the point where it’s been so many years and so many things and so many times that it’s become muscle memory. Really, when it comes down to it, it’s just me just still trying to be dumb like when I was younger—but still safe. I have a few other tricks in my bag of flips, but the backflip is always kind of the go-to. The way you can kind of layout a backflip and the whole sense of slowly being able to throw it around rotation wise has always been my style.”