Felix Art Fair walks the line between upstart and establishment fair. And though only in their second year, Felix already feels like a required stop on the season’s art crawl. That may be due in part to the fair’s ingenious choice of location at the Hollywood Roosevelt, a hotel with enough attractions of its own that adding art just seems like a natural extension.
The scene centered around the pool bar is quintessentially Los Angeles: a wide range of style and conversation and posturing, everyone engaged and curious about something new. The exhibiting galleries are installed in the hotel’s rooms, either in the cabanas encircling the pool or on the 11th and 12th floors. The maze of rooms on the upper floors lends another distinctly L.A. quality to the fair: navigating traffic. There is some confusion as guests wend their way through the web of identical corridors, although friendly guidance — and effective herding techniques — are provided by the staff.
The couches and beds that remain in some of the rooms make it easy to sit down and linger, making the rooms seem less like exhibits and more like a series of hangout spots. Several people commented on the intimacy and “homey” feeling of the fair.
David Mitchell of Kavi Gupta Gallery, a returning exhibitor, says that “the pace feels even better than last year,” the sense of calm, curious meandering providing time to engage and talk about the art. “It lets us have real conversations,” he adds. And certainly there were plenty of people installing themselves on the couches to chat with gallerists, leaf through catalogues, and take time to interact with the art in each space.
While many exhibitors returned from last year, several newcomers injected a breath of fresh art, including Inglewood gallery Residency, who showcased some powerful local perspectives at their first-ever fair. The L.A. galleries made a strong showing overall, including newer gallery Matthew Brown, whose exhibition included Kenturah Davis’ intriguing and emotive “The body effect of color.” The work uses colored, gridded paper squares and repeated letter stamps to shape a female figure, juxtaposing figurative representation with a structural approach.
By establishing themselves as a hotel fair, Felix provides a throwback to the early days of art fairs. This nostalgia was apparent in some of the retro art exhibited by several of the galleries, including a slide-projector-based work at Anton Kern and even The Brode’s parody exhibit of “bootleg” versions of famous mid-century artworks. Like the fair itself, it feels both old and new. While some of the art was less novel or memorable, grounded by the appeal of its format and location, Felix is off to a promising return.
Felix Fair, Hollywood Roosevelt; Feb. 14-15, 11-8pm; Feb. 16, 11-4pm. felixfair.com.