GLASS VISION--Artist Simon Simonian works on a stained glass dome for one of his clients in his studio along Ventura Blvd. His
business has suffered in the latest downturn in Each day last February, Emanuel Simonian gazed onto Ventura Boulevard at the
money streaming past his father's stained-glass studio - Bentleys, Aston Martins, Maseratis and more.

Despite a 64 percent drop in orders at
Simon Simonian's Progressive Art Stained Glass Studio during two years leading up to the
recession, the son saw gold inside those passing cars - glitter he could grasp to save Dad's shop.

Emanuel, 34, seated with his dad in their studio/showroom, recalled the vow he made early last year: "We will make it, or die trying,
because there's no shortage of money, even in the recession."

Nearly a year later, the Simonians are hanging on - fighting to revive a niche business that might seem borderline, even in the best of
times.

Meanwhile, a dozen small-business neighbors along their stretch of Ventura face similar challenges as banks balk at lending and
residents zip their purses.

Twelve years ago, Simon Simonian opened his stained-glass workshop and showroom at 15021 Ventura Blvd. near the confluence of
the 101 and 405 freeways - the gateway to the San Fernando Valley. He was a one-man band with a unique blend of fused and
stained-glass artworks.

An architect and fine artist by training, Simonian had immigrated from Iran 30 years ago so his wife, Evelyn, could study piano. He
owned a liquor store in Burbank and hated it. He worked as an architect until the economy tanked in the early 1990s. He'd been a
painter of contemporary and expressionistic artworks.

But what Simonian really wanted to do was create art within architecture. Big art. Public art. And stained glass, which he'd admired in
churches, was the perfect medium.

Stained glass, he believed, could transform consciousness - and life.

"When this is done, when this is installed, when you get the light behind it, it'll create beautiful space, almost changing the person's
mood," said Simonian, 62, as he scored glass for a nearly 600-pane dome he was fashioning for a Beverly Hills home. "It'll suit you. It'll
give you relaxation and actually bring you happiness.

"Stained glass makes your life longer."

His workshop is crammed floor-to-ceiling with glass panels, blueprints, plywood and lead rods surrounding a large worktable where
Simonian spends up to 12 hours each day designing and working glass.

In the corner sits a kiln, where he fuses glass for custom panes, opposite a hot spot for green tea he pours regularly from 7 a.m. till well
past dusk.

For each sweeping stained-glass dome, Simonian calculates how thousands of panes must fit together inside a matrix of lead cames
and metal frames strong enough to soar above a grand hall without crashing down upon his patrons. Then one by one, he fuses them
all together in the confines of his shop.

For years, the
Progressive Art Stained Glass Studio flourished as orders poured in for domes, windows, doors, skylights and
church windows across the Southland.

"The guy is a true artist, he's fantastic," said actress Mimi Kennedy, who hired Simonian to create a stained-glass door and a
dove-of-peace panel modeled on a photograph. "He knows the feel of the glass."

In 2005, sales peaked at $240,000, which included a 20-foot Tuscany-style dome packed with 13,000 panes of glass at a $25 million
Bel-Air estate. Sales were augmented by resplendent fused glass bowls and other works of art.

But as recession loomed, business lurched to a halt. Last year, the studio took in 12 projects worth $86,000. Meanwhile, the cost of
materials tripled.

"I was thinking, `I really need help,"' the artist said. "I cannot properly do it by myself."

Enter his only son, Emanuel, who last February volunteered to turbocharge dad's business. A shameless salesman, a teenage
Emanuel had once carted Picasso art prints door to door and into elevators in high-rise offices from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.

His motto: In order to get money, you've got to ask for it. His philosophy: The money is out there, you've just got to go for it. After a
lifetime of marketing and consulting jobs, it was time to do a makeover on dad.

"The first thing I did is, I assessed everything - triage, when paramedics get on the scene," said Emanuel, who is also an independent
distributor of nontoxic fuel additives.

"There's gotta be work out there," he had told his father. "I saw the Maseratis drive by and said, `That person must not be suffering
from the economy; he can afford a 15- to 20-foot (stained-glass) facade."

First was the Progressive Art sign, made over in a red, white and blue oval marquee, "a way to say `Screw you' to the economy,"
Emanuel said.

Then came the stained-glass and art showroom, whose tile floors were painted Cape Cod blue, covered with hip egg chairs, leather
sofas and a glass table made by dad.

Then came the marketing blitz. Emanuel compiled a database of 12 years of customers and sent all of them letters inviting them to
Progressive Art.

He bought mailing lists for Los Angeles homes appraised above $2 million, including 1,000 homes in the Valley, and barraged them
with 5,000 postcards.

He blasted out 12,000 e-mails to general contractors, interior designers, architects and glass companies touting his father's art. The
e-mails were followed by phone calls.

He printed 5,000 brochures, which he displays on a sidewalk easel beckoning customers. He took dad's work to home- improvement
trade shows. And finally, he drove across L.A., combing wealthy neighborhoods for new construction sites.

"I literally parked my car, walked in and I asked for the general contractor and gave him a brochure," Emanuel said.

The result of the campaign: a 40 percent increase in business in the past year, the Simonians said. They just finished artwork at St.
Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church in Pasadena.

They're working on a contemporary home in Beverly Hills and are aiming at commissions in Europe and Dubai. As a result of his son's
help, dad is undaunted by the recession.

"I love to do this," Simon Simonian said with satisfaction. "I would love to see my work in banks, malls, public spaces. My favorite is large
pieces; small pieces don't satisfy me.

"Sky's the limit."

"There's no shortage of money," added
Emanuel, ever the optimist. "There is no shortage of good prospects for stained glass."

Contact Simon or Emanuel Simonian by visiting his website, click here.
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