There’s perhaps nothing more California than an inviting, healing-centric cultural complex celebrating its public debut with a group exhibition entitled “Radical Empathy.” However, Compound, the result of founder Megan Tagliaferri’s vision for a space that marries daring conceptual art and community-oriented programming, is dynamic and winsome enough to nullify most instincts to view it through an ironic lens. Compound, located in Long Beach, officially began to welcome visitors last Friday, and its 15,000 square foot complex includes a main gallery space that also contains a dining area, a bar and cozy shop. There’s also a separate exhibition space called the Lab that’s designed for immersive installations.
The first of these installations is Tidepools, a participatory exhibition by the artist Glenn Kaino that consists of two deeply darkened rooms, which were made accessible on Saturday by a helpful guide. In the first room, two cloud chambers, which were designed with assistance from a partnership with NASA, contain small objects surrounded by whirling motes of what looks like dust. In fact, what you’re seeing is fine particles in the air blowing to and fro amidst waves of radiation; the chamber simply renders what’s usually invisible visible.
In the second part of Kaino’s installation, visitors are encouraged to toss ceramic tokens into a bioluminescent wishing well — in total darkness, the round slabs plunge to the bottom of the little pool, giving off ethereal blue light. Back in the main gallery area, Kaino sung Tagliaferri’s praises. “It’s one thing to take a risk on something that might work, and it’s another to take a risk on something that might not work,” he said to the crowd. “It’s incredibly difficult to open an art space in LA, and none of them come out this good. This looks like a space that’s been around for years.”
Compound’s outdoor sculpture garden is currently hosting ceramic pieces by Anna Sew Hoy, and their mirrored surfaces provided plenty of entertainment for the many toddlers stumbling around on the gravel underfoot. Inside, guests were encouraged to have their energies interpreted by a Place 8 Healing crystal reader, and a sound bath and guided meditation were also made available. Later in the evening, Shauna Davis’ new film Black.Eco was screened for a robust crowd.
“Art and wellness both have the ability to strengthen our connections and understanding of ourselves, our communities, and the world around us,” Compound founder Megan Tagliaferri told Observer. “Compound’s mission is to create a space for dialogue, social justice, healing, and transformation – all anchored by the arts.”