Collector Dean Valentine Is Launching an Intimate, Affordably Priced New Art Fair to Coincide With Frieze Los Angeles

Valentine's new Felix LA fair will debut in February 2019.

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Courtesy of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

The jury’s still out on how the California art market will receive Frieze Los Angeles during its debut next year, but that hasn’t stopped local collector Dean Valentine from launching a new satellite fair to coincide with it and the 10-year-old Art Los Angeles Contemporary (both fairs run February 14–17, 2019).

Valentine’s venture, Felix LA, is named jointly after Felix the Cat, art critic Félix Fénéon, and the Spanish word for happy, feliz. It will open at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel from February 13–17.

After a visit to New York earlier this year for the March fairs, Valentine “had a strong feeling that a lot of what I enjoyed about the art world was missing,” he told ARTnews.

His new venture is inspired by the early-1990s art scene, when fairs were intimate affairs typically held in hotels. He hopes to specifically capture the vibe of the old Gramercy International Contemporary Art Fair, founded in 1994 by dealers Colin de Land, Pat Hearn, Lisa Spellman, Matthew Marks, and Paul Morris in the Gramercy Hotel. It took place in both New York and LA—the first West Coast outing saw 20 dealers take over four floors of the Chateau Marmont—but the California version petered out after a lackluster 1998 edition and the birth of the Armory Show the following year.

Dean Valentine. Photo courtesy of Patrick McMullan.

Dean Valentine. Photo courtesy of Patrick McMullan.

Felix LA will host some 35 international galleries and aims to be affordable for small and mid-size galleries. Valentine promises reasonable rates that won’t necessitate major sales just in order for dealers to break even.

So far, the track record for Los Angeles fairs has not been very good. Recent years have seen the cancellations of FIAC Los Angeles, Paris Photo Los Angeles, Art Platform Los Angeles, and Paramount Ranch.

But Valentine is optimistic. “The worst that will happen,” he says, “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. But even if you don’t sell, you will be OK at the end of the day.”

Felix LA will be on view at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, 7000 Hollywood Boulevard, February 13–17, 2019.

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