Joan Agajanian Quinn, captured in a portrait by the great David Hockney

AIWA-LA to Honor Ellis Island Medal Recipient Joan Agajanian Quinn at Luncheon


LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles affiliate of the Armenian International Women’s Association (AIWA) will honor Joan Agajanian Quinn, the recipient of the 2017 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, at a luncheon on Saturday, January 28, at the Mr. C Hotel (1224 Beverwil Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90035). The event, which will start at 11:30 a.m., will be attended by special guest Dame Zandra Rhodes who has created a limited edition special print to celebrate the afternoon.

Quinn received this prestigious medal, along with studio executive Sherry Lansing, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, and author Victoria Kennedy in May 2017 at a moving ceremony on Ellis Island in New York, in recognition of her enduring contributions to both the Armenian and American communities. The Ellis Island Honors Society sponsors the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, established in 1986, and presented annually to American citizens who have distinguished themselves within their own ethnic groups while exemplifying the values of the American way of life. Joan was nominated by the president of the Women’s Caucus for Art, J. Cheryl Bookout. Letters acknowledging community service were presented to the Ellis Island Society by Beverly Hills Mayor Lili Bosse, Ambassador. Grigor Hovhannissian, Lourdes G. Baird (Ret.) and Reverend Scott Colglazier.

Nicole Nishanian, president of AIWA-LA, states, “We are proud to honor Joan Agajanian Quinn who has had an illustrious career in both public and community service. She has served on the Executive Board of AIWA-LA since 1997 and has served with distinction as our NGO representative to the United Nations and as Board Liason. Joan and her late husband, attorney John J. Quinn have garnered praise for their support of artists for over 50 years.”

Quinn supports many local and global humanitarian, educational and cultural activities focusing on causes that benefit diverse communities, some of which are: Board member of The California Film Commission; 17 years on the California Arts Council; The Institute for the Study of and Development of Legal Systems (ISDLS), a group that conducts international legal reform and exchange projects in collaboration with foreign governments to stimulate international relations, human rights and civil liberties; Member of Cedars Sinai Hospital Arts Council; Commissioner for the Beverly Hills Architectural Council; Trustee of the Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA) in Boston working to uphold the museum’s objectives to locate, collect, preserve and present the culture, history, art and contributions of the Armenian people; Trustee of Pilgrim School, a college preparatory school associated with The First Congregational Church of Los Angeles; former Vice President of the Los Angeles Music Center’s Blue Ribbon 400; and Commissioner for the Beverly Hills Arts Council. When she was appointed by the Armenian Minister of Culture to be the honorary commissioner of the Armenian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, she founded the American-Armenian Pavilion Council.

Quinn, a Los Angeles native, is a journalist, curator and arts advocate. She was appointed the West Coast editor of Interview magazine by Andy Warhol, and was society editor of Hearst’s Los Angeles Herald Examiner. Her work with Condé Nast included staff positions on Condé Nast Traveller and House and Garden. The interviews conducted on her public television programs, Beverly Hills View and The Joan Quinn Profiles (filmed at the Hollywood Museum) as well as the numerous periodicals to which she has contributed are aimed at sharing information to a multi-cultural society (ie: editor at Manipulator magazine, Germany; senior editor at Stuff magazine, Los Angeles magazine, LA Style, Main magazine, founding arts editor at Venice magazine, Detour, Vogue-Paris).

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As a curator, Quinn has presented art and fashion exhibitions by luminaries such as photographer Paul Jasmin (Citrus Gallery); designer Zandra Rhodes (Otis Parsons, La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Parsons School of Design-New York, The Phoenix Museum of Art); Rene Bouche (Otis Parsons); Issey Miyaki (The Mori Museum-Tokyo, Japan and The Contemporary Art Museum-Houston, Texas); and Tandori Yokoo (Otis Parsons). A current project dear to Joan’s heart involves her role as chair of the Art and Spirit exhibition presented in the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. As founder of this project, she partnered with Art Division, a non-profit arts organization dedicated to supporting and training underprivileged youth.

She has earned a reputation as a visionary who, over the last 50 years, has inspired more than 200 artists to paint or sculpt her image. This unique collection includes works by Claire Falkenstein, David Hockney, Billy Al Bengston, Beatrice Wood, Dahlia Elsayed, Shepard Fairey, Robert Graham, Robert Mapplethorpe, Antonio Lopez, Peter Carapetian, Zandra Rhodes, Don Bachardy, George Hurrell, Magu, Tony Berlant, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Srboohie Abajian, Larry Bell, Ed Moses, Frank Gehry and Ed Ruscha, to name a few.

She was married for 55 years to Jack Quinn, who passed away in March 2017, two months prior to her receiving the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. They strongly believed in supporting the need to acknowledge victims of domestic violence in Armenia through the Women’s Support Center in Yerevan. (The WSC, a shelter harboring families in need, is an AIWA program). She credits her participation in public and community service to Jack’s unwavering support and pride in all her endeavors. Their twin daughters, Amanda Quinn Olivar and Jennifer Quinn Gowey, accompanied her to Ellis Island to receive the award.

For more information & reservations, contact: Arsine Phillips at or Lily Balian: at

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