Felix LA at The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

by Collin Schreiber

Felix LA, a new contemporary art fair at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles, is looking to take the art fair back to its organic, experimental roots. Art Fairs look a lot different now than they did in the 90s. What are now elaborate curated events that take funding and months of planning and coordination in massive spaces, the roots are much more casual and relaxed. Back in Los Angeles and New York in the 1990s, the arts shows were more experiential. They were hosted in hotel rooms, where you would be able to go from room to room perusing the art while drinking and mingling. Felix LA is returning hotel art fair format and creating an art gallery experience. Its founders, longtime art collector Dean Valentine and brothers Al and Mills Morán of Morán Morán, have arranged to showcase a diverse selection of 40 exhibitors from cities across the globe (Europe, North America, China, South Africa and Australia).

From February 14-17, the first edition of the fair will take place  within the suites and bungalows of The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The event is free and open to the public, with a non-corporate, informal setting, the fair offers the perfect environment for attendees to experience that raw downtown LA energy. As Dean Valentine puts it: “The worst that will happen is you’ve had a really wonderful few days around a pool in LA, and the best is that you’ll sell some art as well."

We had the opportunity to speak with Dean Valentine to learn more about the Felix LA event.

In the conceptual phases, did Felix LA decide not to take on a thematic theme? If there were a theme, a connective tissue to the fair, what would it be? What’s the brand of Felix LA?

Felix LA never considered having a theme. The idea that underlies our fair is that art exists in a web of conversations between dealers, collectors, artists and writers. We feel our job is to create the space for those conversations to happen in a way that most deeply engages people. While we hope to encourage commerce, we view ourselves primarily in providing a four day experience built around passion for contemporary art.

The fair is inclusive of many artists and artist lovers, what is Felix LA trying to say about how art is seen and traded?

As per the previous point. Art needs to be bought and sold to continue to create the conditions that make its existence possible. But the context in which that happens can take many forms. The forms we take is more casual and personal. Or at least we hope so.

What artists are you excited to showcase, was the decision to go international a concept principle or did the guestname grow as Felix LA caught wind?

One of the things I most love about contemporary art is the breadth of its reach, especially internationally. In this way, I think contemporary art has reflected globalization, but only in the positive sense of opening up the many previously ignored or marginalized groups and cultures. We had targeted galleries like Stevenson, from South Africa, and Vitamin, from China, from the very beginning of our conversations about how Felix would be structured. In the future— assuming we decide to do this again— we intend for international galleries to play an even bigger part. We’re excited by so many artists and some of the previews the galleries have been kind enough to share with us. I think people will be blown away by some of the Projects, like Kim MacConnell’s Pattern&Decoration room on the 11th Floor, Parker Ito’s two massive paintings of LA life in the lobby, and Indonesian artists Heri Dono in the Cabana Suite. Just a sampling.

What made Felix Fair want to follow in the footsteps of hotel fair like Gramercy International Los Angeles at the Chateau Marmont? What did you (Dean Valentine along with brothers Al Morán and Mills Morán) think the contribution to the fair would be by hosting it at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel?

The Chateau Marmont was one of my first introductions to the contemporary art world. I met dealers there from all over the world, some of whom are still good friends, and artists who I had never seen before but were a revelation to me, like John Currin and Thomas Schutte. Despite its size, the Roosevelt is quirky and intimate, with lots of nooks and crannies that allow exploration and conversation. Its 1920s historic Hollywood vibe is a great counterpoint to contemporary work. Plus that pool! An amazing gathering place! Hollywood’s version of the agora.

What can you say is Felix LA’s mission in its inaugural edition? What were some obstacles in creating an innovative space for artists and dealers to meet directly?

Our mission to create an engaged dialogue around contemporary art. Not a boring artspeak dialogue, built on conversation, discovery, and personal connection.

Why were the creators inspired by the cartoon character Felix the Cat and art critic Felix Feneon? What do their names say about the Felix LA brand?

I’ve always loved that so much of contemporary art isn’t academic—it spans the range from Banksy to Trish Donnelly. Felix the Cat and Felix Feneon are a tribute to that spirit of merging of high and low. But above all Signac’s painting is a tribute not only to an insightful passionate critic, but to the hallucinatory power of art. And that’s really what we’re all after, isn’t it?

Felix LA at The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel from February 14-17

7000 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028