First published in the July 30 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
By the end of this coming week, downtown Burbank will be artistically enhanced as the ribbon will be cut to celebrate the grand opening of the Lusanet Collective, just off the intersection of East Olive Avenue and First Street.
As a retail center for art, designer jewelry and fashion, the collective will serve as a creative hub to bring photographers, artists and designers of various disciplines together to network, exhibit and sell their work and wares.
The Lusanet Collective is the brainchild of Anet Abnous and Lusine Simonyan, small business owners, entrepreneurs and artists, respectively from Iran and Armenia, who have both made Burbank their home.
The establishment of this new venue, which, along with doing art exhibits, will provide retail offerings, networking and educational events, stemmed from their desire to express gratitude to the community that has welcomed them, nurtured them and that they love.
As a prelude to the collective’s official Aug. 5 opening, Abnous and Simonyan presented a preview exhibit called “Black and White With a Touch of Color,” that ran from July 16 to 26. As co-hosts of the opening-night reception, the duo, appropriately dressed in black and white, welcomed a broad cross-section of representatives from the local arts, media, business and governmental communities.
Along with the higher profile individuals in attendance including City Councilwoman Sharon Springer, former Mayor Marsha Ramos and former City Councilman Tim Murphy, the July 16 opening was also attended by Pasadena attorney Tina Amirkhanyan and her sister, Karen Amirkhanyan, a marriage and family therapist.
“We had read about this opening online and were intrigued to see the exhibit and learn more about what they are doing,” said Tina Amirkhanyan, who, like her sister, had no connection with Burbank or the collective’s owners. “We just got to meet the owners tonight and are very impressed with the show and what they are bringing to the area.”
Karen Amirkhanyan agreed with her sister.
“Following the pandemic, we, like so many people, have been wanting to get back out and have the opportunity to see things and do things like this again,” Karen Amirkhanyan said. “People who appreciate the arts have missed being able to do this, and it’s wonderful that the ability to do it is back.”
Among the 26 artisans whose works were exhibited during the collective’s inaugural show were those of Pat Hammerman, who was an art professor at Queensborough Community College in New York for over two decades; Anahid Boghosian, a native Angeleno who focuses on the imperfections of humanity; and Karen Schifman, an art historian and mixed-media artist, writer and curator who is involved in research on women artists and the representation of women in visual culture.
As for the evening’s co-hosts, Abnous is a fashion designer and the founder of Anet’s Collection, a company featuring wearable art as scarves, jewelry and leather goods reflecting her Armenian heritage and history. Her one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted items are showcased in retail stores and museum gift shops nationwide.
Inspired by her father, Marcel Abnous, a renowned designer in Iran, she has curated art exhibits featuring women artists in New York and Southern California and has expanded her work by virtue of a grant from the Tory Burch Foundation, which empowers women entrepreneurs by providing access to capital, education and digital resources.
“We love to call the Lusanet Collective a home for small businesses,” Abnous said. “We are welcoming designers and artisans to join us and become a part of our collaboration.”
Simonyan, who was only days away from marrying Burbank Police Commissioner Romik Hacobian the night of the exhibition’s opening, is the founder of Miray Collections, a Burbank-based online platform working with local and internationally based Armenian artisans and designers. She also serves as a commissioner on the Burbank Cultural Arts Commission and will benefit by receiving a percentage of the proceeds from sales during last week’s exhibit.
“We are providing small- and medium-size businesses with resources,” Simonyan said. “We [are] creating a collective where they can have retail space that works for their needs, space they would otherwise not be able to afford.”
The Lusanet Collective, located at 124 E. Olive Ave., will be officially open as of this weekend. For more information about becoming involved with the collective, to peruse featured items and find out about upcoming events, visit lusanetcollective.com.
DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or (818) 563-1007.