BURBANK, Calif. – Pauline Hacopian, a hair and makeup artist from Burbank, first decided to depict her new mural project as an infinity sign. As she started to add other parts to it, she figured out that well-known monuments from various cities will add more eloquence to her message. The idea of a mural was developing step-by-step over the period of a month on her Instagram page. On July 19, the time came to unveil this first-ever Armenian mural on the physical walls of an Armenian business in Burbank, Nexus Auto Group, right on the corner of Hollywood Way and Burbank Boulevard.
On the mural, Armenian symbols like the pomegranate, Mount Ararat, Artsakh, and the monument dedicated to the Genocide are represented together with the signs and buildings of Los Angeles and Burbank, indicating the integration of two cultures and identities. “Things like this around the city [of Burbank] will help to raise questions even for those who are not Armenian. If we get more Armenians to be involved this way, it will help,” says Hacopian.
This art work was chosen through a public art project launched by Burbank For Armenia. The project invited local artists to submit their mural designs representing Armenian roots.
This newly created organization, Burbank For Armenia, was created right after the war in Artsakh in October 2020 when two Armenian Americans tried to find productive ways to help the homeland and the community in their hometown here in the US. Cofounder Lusine Simonyan’s brother was on the list of soldiers waiting for their turn to fight on the front. This fact was making Lusine incredibly worried and anxious, thousand miles away. That’s when her boyfriend Romik Hacobian, owner of a media consulting company and an active community member, decided to connect with other like-minded people in the community in an organization to raise Armenian awareness. Since then Burbank For Armenia has been supporting Armenians throughout their journeys in different roles in the community and helps organize different events to represent Armenian culture.
Romik’s family is from Iran. Its members immigrated to the US during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. Moving to Burbank from Glendale, over the last eight years, Romik developed a clear vision for a future as an Armenian-American. “Coming here and having this opportunity is great. For me it is very important to keep the board very diverse. Helping people from different background is to help raise their voice and being valued in the community, give more flavor to Burbank. I can’t imagine doing this in any other country,” Romik adds proudly.
Armenians make up only 16% of the population in Burbank. It has been a long struggle for the community to integrate into the city’s life. The mayor of Burbank, Bob Frutos, describes this as “growing pains”