Review of Felix Art Fair Los Angeles 2019-2021, California, United States

Felix LA is a new contemporary art fair in Los Angeles. Its mission is to create a more intimate fair experience for collectors, dealers, and artists that prioritizes connoisseurship, collaboration, and community. Felix LA was co-founded by Dean Valentine along with brothers Al Morán and Mills Morán. A return to the hotel fair format, in the spirit of the storied Gramercy International Los Angeles at the Chateau Marmont, Felix grants galleries an efficient exhibition opportunity while offering the city’s collector-base intimate access and maximum flexibility. The informal setting allows for more extended conversations among collectors, dealers, and artists alike.

The appeal of Felix Art Fair, which debuted in 2019, was always the intimacy of its setting: Initially built in 1927 along Los Angeles’s Hollywood Boulevard, the Roosevelt Hotel is still outfitted with some of its vintage charm, despite multiple modernizations. Founded by collector Dean Valentine and dealers Al and Mills Morán in a bid to do something different from Art Los Angeles Contemporary, the L.A. Art Show, and Frieze L.A.

Felix Art Fair held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, there’s an exclusive air about it. The tension between the real-world grit portrayed in the featured works and the stylish period decor of the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel, whose interior was designed to evoke dreams of the city’s golden era, mirrors the chasm between everyday reality and romantic imagination. Felix Art Fair in Los Angeles stands out among its peers for its charm and intimacy. A combination of incredible artists, a historic hotel venue on Hollywood Boulevard and poolside viewing.

One of Felix’s selling points is witnessing how galleries respond to the singular setting, galleries are devising creative ways to play on the context of their poolside rooms and outdoor areas. A group show around the concept of the hotel room as a temporary destination and a locus where people can change their personas. Mounting an exhibition inside requiring resourceful use of space; many of the curatorial logistics must be addressed on-site. By placing art pieces on the walls and in crevices of hotel rooms, rather than typical white walls, Sculptures are placed in the shower, paintings hang above toilets, and even wooden closets become display boxes.

In Felix Art Fair, visitors get a chance to see the artworks in close distance, makes for a much more interactive experience, get a window into the wide-ranging and effervescent Los Angeles art scene. In their pursuit of truthfulness, the featured artists provide an illuminating contrast between real life and Los Angeles’s more elusive fantasies of glamour and fame.

The general theme of Felix art fair has always been to create intimacy and a sense of fun, and to let people talk to each other. It privileges conversation, which brought people closer together. Vistors can relax on a chaise longue, sipping drinks beside a pool graced with a Hockney mural. The varied spaces and presentations at the hotel give visitors “the surprise of turning a corner” and finding an unexpected object, moment or connection with another art lover. The event to act as a mutual draw, helping to bring the LA art community in a constructive and enjoyable manner.

Felix Art Fair 2021
The 2021 edition takes place July 31 through August 1 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles, with a presentation of contemporary paintings, sculptures, photographs, and works on paper. The 2021 fair includes 29 local galleries, and makes use of poolside cabanas rather than rooms, inviting a different kind of intimacy than its inaugural version did. Many galleries chose to feature work that rewards close, slow looking, which tend to be easily taken for granted in larger settings.

This year, galleries making their debut at the fair include Beverly Hills blockbuster Gagosian, which is showing select works by artists Duane Hanson, Ed Ruscha, Taryn Simon and Tom Wesselmann as well as LA native Charlie James Gallery, exhibiting artworks by John Ahearn, Danie Cansino, Glenn Hardy, Patrick Martinez and Gabriella Sanchez. A Felix Art Fair roster original, Roberts Projects returns for its third time with pieces by Dominic Chambers, Lenz Geerk, Wangari Mathenge, Collins Obijiaku, Betye Saar, Taylor White, Brenna Youngblood and Zhao Zhao. Meanwhile, Gavlak Gallery makes a statement with Three’s Company, a presentation by three Black artists: Alex Anderson, April Bey and Kim Dacres.

At Charlie James Gallery, busts by John Ahearn hang on indoor and outdoor walls as if taking part in patrons’ conversations. Other works include paintings by Gabriella Sanchez and two cake sculptures by Patrick Martinez which honor slain Chicano journalist Ruben Salazar and abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

Ben Sakoguchi’s detailed acrylic excoriations of American consumerism are so much better in close quarters, as are Fiona Connor’s bronzes of familiar objects——and Melvino Garretti’s idiosyncratically detailed ceramic masks.

In the hyperrealistic sculpture High School Student (1990–92), Duane Hanson reproduces his subject with uncanny verisimilitude, registering every detail of a scruffy teenage boy, an incongruous guest in a luxury hotel.

A few hotel rooms over, Inglewood-based Residency Art Gallery highlights Black and Brown artists like the Perez Bros, Jonah Elijah, and Yvette Mayorga, among others, whose work explores migration, militarization, gender, labor, and race.

With similar objective precision, Ed Ruscha’s work on paper Metro Mattress #6 (2015) depicts a worn-down mattress in a state of neglect, as if discarded on the street. Ruscha isolates the motif in the center of the page, rendering it both prosaic and strange.

In Study for Bedroom Painting #74 (1983), Tom Wesselmann combines a schematic female nude with colorful interior elements in a manner both abstract and Pop.

Chris Sharp Gallery features a single artist: Los Angeles-based Indigenous artist Ishi Glinsky who makes sculptures of cartoon characters using resin inlay techniques common in Indigenous jewelry-making practices. The use of these popular figures is in conversation with “Zunitoons,” which are made by the members of the Zuni nation and sell mostly to tourists in the Southwest.

One particular stand out is Gavlak Gallery featuring sculptures by Kim Dacres made of interwoven tire strips, and the Afro-futurist, glittering tapestries of April Bey.

And in the photograph Black Square XXIII, Phoenix canariensis, Woolsey Fire (2019), Taryn Simon pictures a charred palm tree against a night sky. Brought to California from the Canary Islands, the tree fueled and survived a devastating wildfire.

Felix Art Fair 2020
The 2020 edition takes place February 13-16 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles. This year’s edition feature 60 exhibitors from China, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Poland, and the UK, bringing back a majority of last year’s galleries and welcoming 25 new ones. The growth and diversification attests to the burgeoning Los Angeles art scene and the desperate need for the new type of art fair experience that Felix offered collectors and exhibitors alike.

Gallerists showing for the first time include P.P.O.W in New York, Patron in Chicago, Andrew Kreps in New York, and Boers-Li in Beijing and New York. Also showing at the fair for the first time is a museum: the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London.

This year’s fair also introduce its first-ever Curator of Special Projects who is set to organize Felix LA’s projects and presentations across the hotel’s grounds. The curation explore themes of queerness, femininity, and identity. Felix is also hosting a series of special projects organized by William J. Simmons that appear in the lobby, ballroom, and outdoor bungalows. Highlights include a display of work by Judy Chicago selected by TV producer Jill Soloway and a video by Martha Wilson that shows the artist gradually.

Felix Art Fair 2019
The inaugural edition of the Felix L.A. art fair, founded by former UPN CEO and onetime Walt Disney TV president Dean Valentine, open with a poolside bash on Valentine’s Day and include a number of special presentations that nod to Hollywood architecture and landmarks, as well as entertainment’s tradition of the revelatory celebrity interview, its role in the making and faking of nostalgia and its predilection for the preternatural.

The first edition of Felix LA takes place from February 14-17, 2019 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The fair’s special projects, all presented by local galleries or curators and featuring many local artists, was installed in suites, public spaces and poolside bungalows of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel alongside art for sale from about 40 galleries, many from Los Angeles and New York, others from San Francisco, France, Germany, Australia, South Africa and China.

L.A. galleries presenting special projects include Susanne Vielmetter, Marc Selwyn, Chateau Shatto, Five Car Garage, Thomas Solomon Art Advisory, Baik + Khneysser — most of which are also exhibiting at the fair along with Grice Bench, Nino Mier, Michael Benevento, Richard Telles, Parrasch Heijnen Gallery, M+B, Nicodim Gallery, Nonaka-Hill, Roberts Projects, Smart Objects and Moran Moran.

The fair consists of two main sections with special projects interspersed throughout the building. The first section, the Cabanas, hosts everything from a brightly colored interactive musical booth by Esther Pearl Watson and Mark Todd at Susanne Vielmetter to a more serene selection of Roger White paintings laid out lovingly on a hotel bed at Grice Bench. Fair-goers can weave in and out of the ground-floor poolside rooms with relative ease, though expect the usual hustle-and-bustle feel of art commerce in action. The second part of the exhibition is located on the second floor. The large space is transformed into a venue for artistic talks or presentations.

Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel is a historic hotel located at 7000 Hollywood Boulevard in the Hollywood district of Los Angeles, California. It opened on May 15, 1927, and is the oldest continually operating hotel in Los Angeles. Marilyn Monroe lived at the hotel for two years early in her career, and posed for her first commercial photography shoot by the pool.

The 12-story hotel has 300 guest rooms including 63 suites. It sits along the Hollywood Walk of Fame and across the street from the TCL Chinese Theatre. The building has a Spanish Colonial Revival Style interior, with leather sofas, wrought-iron chandeliers and colorful tiled fountains.

The Gable-Lombard penthouse, a 3,200 square-foot duplex with an outdoor deck with views of the Hollywood Hills and the Hollywood sign, is named for Clark Gable and Carole Lombard. The Marilyn Monroe suite is named for the actress, other accommodations include King Superior rooms and vintage 1950s poolside cabanas.

The hotel has a total of eight restaurant, bars and lounges. 25 Degrees is a 24-hour hamburger restaurant located just off the hotel lobby. It was opened in 2005. Public Kitchen & Bar features American food in an Old Hollywood-style dining room. Tim Goodell is the head chef of both restaurants. The Spare Room is a gaming parlor and cocktail lounge; the Library Bar is a cocktail bar with cocktails made using locally sourced ingredients; and Tropicana Bar overlooks the pool.