A Former TV Exec's Free Felix Art Fair Occupies the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
Ex-UPN CEO and collector Dean Valentine wanted to create a cozy, rambling event with a discovery around every corner of the storied location: "It's like on 'The Voice,' the surprise of when the red chair turns around — that's what makes that show a hit."
It started with the slush. Dean Valentine — the former UPN CEO, onetime Walt Disney TV president and leading art collector (an early fan of Takashi Murakami, he also owns works by Ed Ruscha and Andrea Zittel) — found himself ankle-deep in icy gray puddles as he trudged around New York City in March from the art fairs that take place annually on the Hudson River's titanic piers to other fairs across town. Each event felt chillier and more inhospitable than the last.
"Art fairs are very much now like supermarket aisles," he recalls thinking. Over dinner that night with gallerists Anton Kern and Tanya Leighton, Valentine discovered a consensus: "They appreciated [fairs for] the opportunity to have commerce and they participated as much as they could, but they too felt a lack — of conversations, intimacy and fun."
Once Valentine, 64, returned to L.A., where he lives in Beverly Hills with his wife, producer Amy Adelson, he enlisted West Hollywood gallerist brothers Al and Mills Moran. The trio "sort of tossed the idea around," Mills recalls, "and we immediately thought of the Roosevelt." The Felix art fair will debut at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, aptly, on Valentine's Day.
Felix's hotel format is meant to evoke the short-lived mid-'90s fair Gramercy International Los Angeles at Chateau Marmont, which Valentine remembers fondly as cozier, less corporate and less transactional than today's big-tent and convention-center art extravaganzas. "Dean is one of the most knowledgeable people about art of anybody I know," says Mandeville Films' David Hoberman, who often spends Saturdays gallery-hopping with Valentine and entertainment attorney Craig Jacobson. "If he's got a vision and sees an opportunity, perhaps even a need, for a different kind of venue for looking at art, I bet on him." For Felix, art, performance and music will be nestled in and around the Roosevelt's public spaces, suites and the mod wood-paneled bungalows overlooking the pool (adorned with David Hockney's characteristic curlicues).
Look for special presentations that nod to Hollywood, like a lobby installation of tongue-in-cheek ceramic sculptures titled Jennifer Aniston's Used Book Sale from artist Kristen Morgin. Valentine wants Felix to offer "the surprise of turning a corner" and finding an unexpected object, moment or connection with another art lover, he says, drawing on his television DNA for the perfect analogy. "It's like on The Voice, the surprise of when the red chair turns around — that's what makes that show a hit."
This story first appeared in the Feb. 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.