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AZTEC — Romanian immigrants Petre and Angela Maianu have collected a lot of one-of-a-kind art and antiquities from all over the world.

On Thursday, the couple will open their art and antiques store called Armonie Arts and Antiques located at 108 S. Main Ave. Armonie is a word of Italian origin that roughly translates to "A rare beauty descended from the heavens."

Their collection — hundreds of paintings, sculptures, furniture pieces, vases, wood carvings, chandeliers and lamps from all over the world, many of museum quality — fills their new location's 2,400 square feet.

Petre Maianu's eyes lit up when he was asked about the origin of a particular piece. He said he is amazed by the craftsmanship and rarity of some of the pieces that are for sale in the shop.

Whether it's an old glass plum wine bottle with a wooden cork bearing the toothy visage of Dracula, a 200-year-old Egyptian desk, a wooden horse from a Coney Island carousel, a 16th century wine crushing stand from France or celadon ceramic statues from Ming Dynasty China, the Maianus likely have it — and have a story to tell about it.

"We left everything behind in Romania, but we started collecting in America, and our daughter (said), 'You better do something with all that stuff or you'll be in trouble,'" Petre Maianu said with a laugh. "It is true. There is a lot, but they are beautiful, unique pieces of art, and they all tell a story. They take you to that culture in the part of the world where they are from and, suddenly, you are there."

He especially likes pieces that display intricate detail work. Sculptures in soapstone, driftwood, bamboo and jade fill the store's front room. A soapstone sculpture of 15 horses in full gallop is one of his favorites.

"Can you see the detail? So tiny (are) the details in this one," Petre Maianu says with boyish glee. "Look at each face on the animals as they are. Their expressive faces, each one of them. It's incredible how someone manages to capture it all. It seems impossible, but look closely, and you see it."

The Maianus wanted to open the shop in Durango, Colo., to be near their son, Jerry Maianu, who owns a wood flooring business there. But they concluded the cost was too high. They found Aztec much more affordable, bought a house and leased the storefront space last month.

But getting started in Aztec hasn't been without issues.

Vibrations from the steady stream of oilfield truck traffic along Main Avenue caused glass shelves on a cabinet by their storefront window to crash to the floor, damaging $10,000 worth of art. The Maianus said they are waiting to hear from their insurance company about the loss.

Trying Aztec is one of several moves the Maianus have made since they first emigrated from Bucharest, Romania, where they both grew up and met when Petre Maianu was a captain for Tarom Romanian Air Transport, the oldest airline in Romania, and Angela was a flight attendant.

After landing in New York 36 years ago, the couple have lived in North Dakota, Minnesota, Utah and Colorado, following their now-adult children and running cafes, catering services and, most recently, collecting and selling valuable art and antiques.

"Bucharest is in the middle of so many cultures in Europe, like a melting pot," Angela Maianu said. "The food, the people — they all come from all over, you know — Greek, Turkish, Armenian, Hungarian, French, Italian. The most tasty food in Europe."

Petre Maianu likens their store to a trip around the world, something the couple take delight in, since they don't fly as often as they used to.

"You take a trip through the vision of art and antiques, traveling to that world and see different cultures," he said. "You can see a lot of humanity and life in every piece."

The couple said they will be open four days a week, but they haven't decided on their hours of operation.

"We are open by appointment, too, if people want to," Angela Maianu said. "I mean, we live five minutes away."

For more information, call 719-473-6049 or go to armonie-art-antiques.com.

James Fenton is the business editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621 and jfenton@daily-times.com. Follow him @fentondt on Twitter.

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