And the cost for the hotel fair would be much lower. Booths at Frieze start at $8,277.50 for the smallest booth, a paltry 215 square feet. For a large booth, mega-galleries have to pay more than $75,000. Meanwhile, a gallery at Felix LA can get a booth for just $4,000, and the most expensive booth, at $10,000, is a small uptick from the low barrier at Frieze—but that fee gets you all 1,200 square feet of the hotel’s over-the-top Roosevelt Suite, more than five times the size of a small booth at Frieze.
The fact that Felix LA is free and open to the public will allow participating galleries to introduce would-be collectors—many of whom may not be willing to fork over as much as $250 for a ticket to Frieze L.A.—to work by emerging artists who wouldn’t have a place at a major fair stuffed with work already validated by the market.
“It’s a response to the market now, where the market starts concentrating on blue-chip art because it’s a nervous-making world,” Valentine said. “What that means is that the new art, the emerging art, the younger art that hasn’t had time to marinate in the world—the only way that art can get absorbed into the system is for people to talk about it. We’re not anti-capitalistic, we’re not anti-market, we just want to create a safe haven for certain kinds of art and artists.”
To assemble an inaugural exhibitor list, Valentine looked to dealers he’s worked with closely over the years, such as Kern and Leighton. The final roster includes long-established heavy-hitters such as Canada in New York, Jessica Silverman Gallery
in San Francisco, and Kavi Gupta
in Chicago, as well as international galleries from Europe, Asia, and South Africa. But Valentine and the Moráns also stayed true to the youthful spirit of the fairs at the Chateau Marmont—which were co-organized by Matthew Marks when he was in his early thirties, and had Jay Jopling and Maureen Paley
showing in some of their first fairs—and invited outfits such as New York’s Bridget Donahue
and 56 Henry, a tiny Chinatown space run by the dealer Ellie Rines.
“You want that gallery that’s going to be a bigger gallery 20 years from now,” Mills Morán said. “I’d love for Ellie Rines to have a much stronger program—and that she showed at our fair way back when. That, to me, is important. And that brings the energy to what happened in the 1990s, and trying to recreate that.”