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|Don Birrell, was born on December 6, 1922 in Corona California.
A natural ability in art and design appeared very early in life with an acclamation of “best in sandbox” given to him in kindergarten. An avid interest in design and drawings has been a strong force throughout his life.
From 1943-1945 Don was a member of the Eighth Air Force stationed near London, England. Even during the war his artistic talents were recognized and put to use. Following the war Don entered Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles where he studied graphic design and exhibition design. When he graduated in 1949 he went on to teach design at the University of Alabama.
The Crocker Art Gallery in Sacramento asked him to become the new director in 1951 and he brought an interest in contemporary art as well as many innovating ideas to attract new interest to this relatively conservative museum. At one of his design exhibitions at the gallery, he met Ed Power Jr., one of the partners of the Nut Tree Restaurant. Later he was brought to the Nut Tree Restaurant as Art Director and continued his ideas for art exhibitions there, as well as taking on the challenge of designing a unique environment for the Nut Tree which has represented the essence and vitality of Northern California for over seventy years.
For thirty-seven years Don acted as Design Director, at the Nut Tree Restaurant in Vacaville, California. His assistance in the creation of the Coffee Tree Restaurant and its remodeling has been widely acclaimed and the attention to contemporary California and a symbol of the sun is one of his hallmarks in design. A small replica of the largest star in our galaxy graces the front door of his home in Vacaville, where he and his wife Doris reside.
Don is also a well-known Northern California artist who has a distinctive decorative and illustrative style in his many water colors and pen and ink landscapes. Many shades of green and earth tones fill his pictures of California, China, Thailand, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand and Greece. As a man who has traveled the world and lives fully, Don has acquired a breath and sense of universality which is portrayed simply yet directly. With the humanity and sensitivity of one who understands and recognized the role of innate beauty and the need to recreate it in one’s own style, this artist and designer directs our attention towards the universal beauty which surrounds us.
Graduate of Chouinard Art Institute, Los Angeles, 1949