What does it take to get into an art fair? Anthony Meier, ADAA president and Frieze LA committee member, tells all

Anthony Meier, the president of the Art Dealers Association of America, has been art dealing on the West coast for nearly four decades, emerging in the early 1980s as a private advisor before opening a gallery in 1996. He recently moved his San Francisco gallery across the Golden Gate to Mill Valley, on the heels of his first-ever presentation at Frieze Los Angeles this week. After many years serving on the selection committee for Frieze Masters, Meier recently became the latest addition to Frieze LA’s committee. We caught up with the California dealer to ask what it takes to get a booth in LA’s biggest fair.  

Could you tell us about the founding of your gallery?
I was buying and selling work in college and have had a public-facing gallery for over 25 years. We just closed that in June and opened here in Mill Valley. Mine was a kinda classic story—art history and French, went to school in Boston, and spent a lot of time in the East Village as it was a burgeoning scene. It seemed like the smart thing to do, and the rest was history.

What does a gallery need to do to be successfully selected for an art fair?
A clear application articulating why the artist, and why the body of work, or whether there’s a juxtaposition, such as what we’re doing at Frieze LA this year. We’re taking a primary artist, Marsha Cottrell, and juxtaposing her with Larry Bell. It’s about: why, how, the reason and the context.

What makes an application stand out? What do you look for as a committee member?
The freshness of the material [and] the uniqueness of the proposal. The clarity of the presentation, booth orientation, booth placement, quantity of work, et cetera. And then, the fact that you’re the only person doing it. Uniqueness to a point. In other words, you don’t want three Boetti booths with the same kind of little embroidery work. It’s about thinking who’s going to make the cleanest and the clearest presentation and give the audience something to chew on.

Can you recall a particularly memorable or effective booth, either from Frieze Masters or from Frieze LA?
Six years ago, Hauser & Wirth, presented a very rare and early Richard Artschwager pornographic work, which was presented in a closet-like furniture covering. The balance of intimate exhibition was a continuation of nude portrayals and rarely-seen works from the past.

What should a gallery do if they’re rejected?
They should appeal and speak to the director of the fair and clarify how they can improve their application next year.


  • Meier’s inaugural show in Mill Valley, In the Shadow of Mt. Tam, is on view until March 17 and explores the artistic history of Marin County from the 1940s and 1970s.
  • Anthony Meier, 21 Throckmorton Avenue, Mill Valley, California. Frieze Los Angeles booth G9.