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In the Pipeline: Vegan vandalism not kosher

November 12, 2012|By Chris Epting
(Courtesy John Patterson )

I wrote about a mural in this column two years ago. It covered a large liquor store wall facing the McDonald's near the intersection of Edinger Avenue and Edwards Street, and it depicted all the most iconic McDonald's characters, from Ronald to Grimace to the Hamburglar, all hanging out in Huntington Beach.

As I described back then, the detail of the mural interested me because of how accurate the little touches were, like the old wooden H.B. sign that used to be near the pier. After seeing an artist signature, "Danosians '92," I did some research.

Saeed Danosian was born in Iran in 1954. He was an artist, scholar and philanthropist who died in Irvine in 2008 at the age of 54 from a sudden aortic dissection.

I tracked down Yeganeh, his wife, who painted an incredible picture of her beloved husband. She told me how he had studied in Vienna, and that in 1979, while an art student at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, he started working at McDonald's as a manager. They were married, had a daughter and moved to Orange County in 1987. He had a master's degree in set design and art direction but could not find a job, so to support his family, he looked for a job with McDonald's Corp.

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Danosian worked at the Huntington Beach McDonald's location while teaching private art classes on the side. The restaurant owner learned about his background and how much he loved teaching kids about art, so when Danosian offered to create a painting on the wall for their young customers, the owner asked him to paint a mural instead. And so he did. He also painted other murals around O.C., including one at Mission San Juan Capistrano.

As Yeganeh told me back then, "Saeed, he was a very kindhearted person and a great human being. At his funeral, which was held on Christmas Eve, there were hundreds of people present and numerous speeches given about how much Saeed had touched their lives. Irvine's then mayor, Beth Krom, said, 'He was always willing to give, with no expectations of getting anything in return.'"

Yeganeh continued, "He donated so much of his time and worked with so many nonprofit organizations. The last 10 years, he taught as a professor at Westwood College, and in 2008 (only six months before his death), he was selected as national instructor of the year. We have received so many letters from his students and their families saying how much Saeed changed their son's/daughter's life. My daughter and I are truly proud of him."

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