Next month in Long Beach, CA, a cultural space named Compound is set to open. Founded by art patron and designer Megan Tagliaferri of FLO Design Studio, the space’s focus in on art and wellness—a facet of well-being that totes an exceptional experience with art, but with shared experiences in the spiritual world, too. Set across a 15,000-square-foot space in two converted warehouse buildings linked by a sculpture garden, the space promotes social equity, driven by museum-quality exhibitions, meditation, a retail outlet, healthy dining, and public programming.
With Airrion Copeland as Executive Director, and presentations spearheaded by LAXART Founder Lauri Firstenberg, Compound will also debut a key program entitled Compound Commissions—site-specific installations from leading contemporary artists, first with two large-scale installations by artist Glenn Kaino. Other initial commissions include pieces by artists like Anna Sew Hoy, Lita Albuquerque, Chrysanne Stathacos, and Tavares Strachan, whose neon artwork stating “You Belong Here” welcomes guests from the exterior of the building.
Whitewall spoke with Tagliaferri to learn more about Compound, its inaugural exhibition “Chaos to Cosmos,” and why she hopes it provides the space and tools to heal.
WHITEWALL: Can you tell us a bit about your creative background leading up to founding Compound?
MEGAN TAGLIAFERRI: I’m from Portland, Oregon and moved to Long Beach 18 years ago because of my love for the diversity, vast natural explorations, adventure, freedom, and cultural mash-up of life that are characteristic of Southern California. I’ve spent my career as a design and interiors professional after receiving a degree in interior architecture, and founded FLO Design Studio, which focused on hospitality and residential spaces.
Compound has been in development over the past five years. Many of the ideas around the inaugural programs and exhibitions derived from conversations in the context of artist studios. Through these conversations, I understood that Compound could be a laboratory for artistic experimentation and freedom. The sense of inclusion provided by Southern California anchors Compound’s efforts to create an equitable space for all.
WW: Was there a particular medium or movement that informed your relationship to art or design?
MT: The California Light and Space movement was very influential to both my collecting and how I think about Compound’s art program.
WW: How does Compound focus on wellness?
MT: Wellness is often left out of conversations about art, but we think the health of communities can be amplified through the experience of art. Contemporary art and wellness both offer opportunities to stimulate empathy and growth. I wanted to create a space where all aspects of a person, and community, can be nurtured. Selected offerings will include community dinner series, farmers market pop-ups, yoga sessions, healing workshops, artist talks, youth art programs, and more. I hope Compound provides our community with the space and tools to heal.
WW: Why is this something you feel the community needs today?
MT: Creating a beacon of healing, belonging, and acceptance for one another is greatly needed during these times. Art and wellness both have the ability to strengthen our connections and understanding of ourselves, our communities, and the world around us. After months of isolation, followed by weeks of unrest, we look forward to providing Long Beach with a home to heal, organize, and celebrate.
In a time where cultural and educational institutions are recalibrating, Compound has the opportunity as a new cultural complex to listen, to learn, and to think about cultural production and service to the community, to be responsive to the charged climate of the here and now. Compound is a place for humans to hold space for one another; to be seen, heard, and appreciated just as they are.
WW: The physical structure of the space is unique—two converted warehouse buildings linked by a public sculpture garden. How did you envision artworks creating dialogue in this space?
MT: We’re thinking beyond the white cube, both in terms of the physical space and the program. Contemporary art will be displayed in an expanded context—throughout the complex with a focus on the indoor/outdoor dynamic. The idea was to create an intimate, welcoming, accessible space.
WW: Tell us a bit about the inaugural exhibition you’re gearing up to present.
MT: The debut exhibition at Compound is entitled “Radical Empathy.” Focusing on the intersection of art and activism, the exhibition highlights voices and languages that are integral to this discourse. The subsequent exhibition, “Chaos To Cosmos” will open in mid-2021 and explores historical movements with a focus on abstraction, notions of the sublime, universality, cosmology, craft, and materiality. Artists include Fred Eversley, Lita Albuquerque, Billy Al Bengston, Helen Pashgian, Gisela Colon, Seffa Klein, Eamon Ore-Giron, Fay Ray, Rachel Rose, and Gail Stoicheff.
WW: Compound also includes spaces for public programming, meditation, retail, and healthy dining. What was your initial this behind type of programming?
MT: We’re trying to create and test a new model that emphasizes wellness as much as it does contemporary art, with the understanding that an inclusive space with holistic community programs can impact one’s world view. We’re thinking about Compound as a place to provide intimate encounters with art and innovative experiences with a multitude of dynamic programs.
WW: How does “Compound Commissions” extend Compound’s mission? What will the first with Glenn Kaino present?
MT: The Compound Commission series was created to help artists envision unrealized, ambitious projects, to create a space for experimentation and to test new ideas. We want to feature installations that engage our viewers—works that are experiential and participatory. For example, Glenn Kaino’s immersive installation part of the Compound Commissions series, entitled Tidepools, includes a wishing well filled with bioluminescent material. As coins fall to the bottom, the darkened room is illuminated by the visitors’ wishes.
WW: Other commissioned artists include Anna Sew Hoy, Lita Albuquerque, Chrysanne Stathacos, and Tavares Strachan. Why did you choose these artists for the beginning stages of Compound?
MT: I chose these artists because I had a gut reaction to their work, and many have long-standing relationships with the Long Beach and Los Angeles art communities. I am also drawn to questions and concerns in their work that are social, political, and environmental in nature that speak to Compound’s values and vision. Tavares Strachan’s neon artwork reading “You Belong Here,” for example, will greet guests along the facade of the building.
WW: How do you envision Compound impacting the Long Beach community?
MT: Compound is committed to reflecting the diversity of Long Beach, and the world. We want to provide a safe cultural space for the community—art for all. We are working with local farmers, local architects, a local chef, and partnering with local youth organizations and political organizations to create programs that matter to them, and are for them. We are here to bring people together, which I think the world could use more of at this moment.