Feast II Presenters Charm VAC Crowd 

The Charm School hands out $1,000 micro-grant to local artist

Charm School co-founders Meshel Renee Ledet, left, and Chelsea Snow, right, pose with Feast II winner Erin Mallea, center.

Patrick Sweeney

Charm School co-founders Meshel Renee Ledet, left, and Chelsea Snow, right, pose with Feast II winner Erin Mallea, center.

Volunteers for Boise's Charm School scurried about Visual Arts Collective on June 12, setting out black cafeteria trays on long, mess hall-style tables, stirring huge pans of paella and tossing vast bowls of Caesar salad, all in preparation for the Feast II dinner, the second installment of a quarterly competition among Boise creatives to snag a crowd-funded micro grant.

Attendees pay $20 admission, which includes a seat, a ballot and dinner prepared by a rotating lineup of local chefs. Each presenter has a few minutes on the VAC stage to pitch his or her idea and, at the end of the evening, attendees vote for the project they think deserves the grant, which is pooled from the door money.

The event is called "Feast" because there is delicious grub involved. Before the presentations, attendees lined up to fill their trays with paella from The Basque Market. There was a vegetarian variety--featuring generous amounts of zucchini and string beans--and a satisfyingly salty chorizo-and-clam option. Guests picked up hunks of baguette from Acme Bakery and whoopie pies courtesy of Heather Plummer of H Bakery.

In all, 10 local artists pitched ideas at Feast II: Doug Bolles, Travis Campion, Josh Gross, Stephen Helecker and Cody Gittings, Heidi Kraay, Erin Mallea, Whitney Rearick, Eric Valentine, April VanDeGrift and Tyler Walker.

The night began with a brief update from last year's winner, Sam Johnson, on King Dazbog, a 65-foot-long, 25-foot-tall, glow-in-the-dark dinosaur puppet that earned him the $1,000 Feast I grant.

The rest of the evening was marked by a sweeping diversity of ideas, including everything from Rearick's photo project--set on the Boise Greenbelt and modeled on Humans of New York--to Helecker and Gittings' pitch to fund the editing of their short film, Smoke, based on Alan Heathcock's short story.

Following the presentations, ballots were collected from the audience and, a short while later, the winner was announced.

"I wish I had an envelope," said Chelsea Snow, Charm School co-founder and owner of Bricolage, before announcing that Mallea's plan to mail art parcels with handmade envelopes to rural Idaho communities had won the $1,000 grant.

Mallea's Contact With Mystery included a detailed description of the hand-constructed parcels she'd like to make, as well as a breakdown of how many parcels the grant would fund--determining that each package, complete with art, postage and a brief message explaining the project, would cost 83 cents. The cost analysis resonated with attendees.

"I would pay 83 cents for two people to have a magic moment," she said.

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