Burbank for Armenia held a ceremony at Nexus Auto Group to celebrate the unveiling of Burbank’s first-ever Armenian-themed mural by artist Pauline Hacopian on July 19.
In February of 2021, the youth committee of BFA launched their Public Art Project, which called for locals to submit mural proposals under the theme of “Armenian Roots.” Following a careful deliberation process, Hacopian’s submission was chosen as the artwork most compatible with representing the Armenian culture of the Burbank community.
Among those in attendance at the ceremony on Monday were Burbank Mayor Bob Frutos, Senator Anthony Portantino, Burbank City Council Member Konstantine Anthony, and City Council Member Nick Schultz.
“I am so excited to have joined Burbank for Armenia at the mural unveiling at Nexus Auto Group,” Frutos said. “Pauline Hacopian has made history in Burbank by painting the first Armenian-themed mural in Burbank. Her work brings diversity into our community and is an important reminder of the many great contributions Armenian-Americans have made to our City!”
The mural includes vibrant scarlet pomegranates and the Los Angeles skyline sitting in front of a deep blue evil eye symbol. In Armenian culture, pomegranates symbolize good fortune and fertility, and across all cultures, the evil eye signifies protection from negativity. These images skillfully tie Los Angeles County references together with cultural emblems significant to Armenian community members in Burbank.
“I just picked things that meant something to me and I thought people could also relate to,” Hacopian said. “I…started putting it together one by one, really not having an idea of where it was going to go. But I’m glad it came out the way it did. I’m really happy with it.”
After being selected as the BFA Public Art Project victor, Hacopian embarked on a month-long journey to bring her proposal to life outside of Nexus Auto Group, a local Armenian-owned business. This undertaking was her very first mural creation, and she balanced it with her full-time work as a hairstylist and makeup artist. In spite of its coincidence with Burbank’s summer heatwave, Hacopian still managed to create a memorable masterpiece with her first wall art attempt.
“One day I did have a heat stroke, so I called it in early, but it was a lot of fun,” Hacopian said of making the mural.
BFA Board of Directors member and Co-Founder Romik Hacobian started the organization with Lucy Simonyan in late 2020, during the escalating conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. As a family member of Simonyan was facing an impending war draft in Armenia, Hacobian reached out to pillars of the Burbank community to join forces and offer support to Armenia.
Hacobian contributes as a board member of various Burbank organizations, such as the Burbank Chamber of Commerce and Burbank Coordinating Council, and Simonyan is a Burbank Cultural Arts Commissioner. Through their local connections, they’ve been able to assemble BFA contributors such as Board Member of the Burbank Unified School District Dr. Armond Aghakhanian, City of Burbank Economic Development Manager Mary Hamzoian, and former City Councilman Tim Murphy.
“What was really great was how responsive everybody was, and everybody just jumped on board,” Hacobian said. “Since then it’s stuck. Our board is filled with leaders all throughout the community, people who’ve been putting painstaking work in different commissions and boards that they’ve been on.”
Together, BFA members have raised considerable funds for Armenian soldiers, including a $180,00 total amount gathered from their very first fundraiser which shut down San Fernando Blvd. BFA had a booth set up at the Kiwanis Club of Burbank Golf Ball Drop event this weekend and is promoting the 3rd annual GiniFest Wine and Spirit Festival on Sunday, July 25, which will take place at Castaway steakhouse in Burbank. In the future, they also hope to host a food festival showcasing a variety of meals from various cultures, including Armenian, Hispanic, and Chinese cuisines.
BFA’s philanthropic efforts, along with Hacopian’s mural, together signal an acceptance of and support for the Armenian community and all cultures. Hacobian hopes that the mural will endure as a celebratory mark of inclusivity across the City of Burbank.
“I feel like the message it should send is …celebrate your culture, share it with other people,” Hacobian said. “Art, food, culture, it brings people together. And that’s the ultimate goal for Burbank for Armenia, which is bringing people together. We’re hoping that that’s what happens.”
To learn more about the work of Pauline Hacopian, visit her Instagram page here.
You can visit the site of the mural at Nexus Auto Group, located at 1329 N Hollywood Way in Burbank.