Where else but Southern California would you encounter the idea of fusing art with wellness? And while Compound, the new cultural space opening in Long Beach in September, was designed with that very mission, the 15,000-square-foot destination is unlike anything the area has seen before.
Philanthropist Megan Tagliaferri, an heir to the Scripps newspaper fortune with a background in hospitality design, has spent five years building a multidisciplinary creative hub that will feature everything from a sculpture garden and yoga classes to hands-on gardening, musical performances and poetry readings—even a farm-to-table Italian deli—all tucked into a retrofitted Art Deco building from the 1930s designed in collaboration with BOA Architecture and CH Design Studio.
Tagliaferri, 40, is a Long Beach local who says she wanted “to create a place for people to share their gifts,” calling Compound “a different way to commune around art and education—warm and hospitable.” Indeed, Compound’s central tenet is its Policy of Belonging, intended to bridge social divisions and embrace, quite simply, everyone.
But the art—fueled by Tagliaferri’s passion and overseen by Lauri Firstenberg, founder of the nonprofit LAXART—takes center stage. Rotating exhibitions (the first will include works from Billy Al Bengston and Helen Pashgian, among others) will be combined with site-specific works by the likes of Tavares Strachan, whose blue neon artwork You Belong Here will welcome visitors to the space. According to Firstenberg, Compound “has the scale, tone and feel of Ballroom Marfa and the heart of the Underground Museum” in Los Angeles.
“A lot of the work has this tranquil, sublime, peaceful tone,” says Firstenberg, a consultant and adviser who has worked with Tagliaferri on her collecting. “Megan has a desire to support artists over time. She’s not just about acquiring the stunning artwork.”
The marquee piece for the debut, and the first in a series of Compound commissions, will be Tidepools by LA artist Glenn Kaino. A triptych of sorts, it comprises a cloud chamber, a sound bath and a wishing well with the surprise element of bioluminescence.
“Glenn has so much energy and ambition. He was a great fit for the first commission,” says Tagliaferri. “When I was in his studio, we talked about how we both want to create healthy connections.”
While Covid predictably delayed the Compound project, it also underlined the crucial need for wellness in all areas. For the opening, Tagliaferri will institute social-distancing measures, like timed entry, where needed, and emphasize Compound’s outdoor aspects, adding more features and ways to gather together as they become feasible.
“Humans are hard-wired for connection,” Tagliaferri says. “That is not going to go away.”