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Wrong Don Birrell?

Mr. Don Birrell

Art Director

Nut Tree Restaurant

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Nut Tree Restaurant

Background Information

Employment History

Design Director

Nut Tree

Art Director

Nut Tree

Design Teacher

University of Alabama


Eighth Air Force

Crocker Art Museum


graphic design and exhibition design

Chouinard Art Institute

Web References (12 Total References)

Biography [cached]

Don Birrell

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.

Before design director Don ... [cached]

Before design director Don Birrell started to carve his own influence into the NT, he was director of the Crocker Art Museum in Sac, and kept tabs on established and emerging artists.

Chouinard Foundation ยป Grandview Magazine Overlay [cached]

Don Birrell

In response to our last issue of Grand View ("In Memorium") Don Birrell ('50) of Vacaville sent these two images. He writes: "In your last Chouinard bulletin I read the notice about the passing of Emerich Nicholson and reference to his mural in the Vacaville Post Office.
On this page and the back cover are regular Chouinard names - Don Birrell, Neil Boyle, Nelbert Chouinard,
DON BIRRELL / Retrospective of Birrell's work design, drawing, and painting at the Vacavillc Museum, January 24 to August 10,2003. As design director of the Nut Tree for some fifty odd years, Birrell becamc a cultural icon in Vacaville. At the show's opening he was honored at a testimonial, 200 plate, dinner.

ADAC- Newsletter [cached]

Thru August 10, the Vacaville Museum is featuring an exhibit of the work of graphic designer/illustrator Don Birrell, who was the art director for the Nut Tree for 37 years, where he created memorable and colorful billboards, interior spaces, environmental layouts, package designs, art exhibits, retail spaces ... among other things ... Birrell, 81, who is still working, is also responsible for the Vacaville city seal, as well as numerous signs in the area -- his friendly images still greeting visitors who prowl the endless factory outlets and strip malls that today surround the now closed Nut Tree.For more information about the exhibit (and an interview with the artist), see: http://www.vacavillemuseum.orgThe Vacaville Museum is located in a neighborhood off the old downtown.Thanks to steve mehallo for this tid-bit.

The Reporter - Don Birrell 1922-2006 [cached]

Don Birrell 1922-2006He was a local icon and artistic genius

Don Birrell, Vacaville's beloved longtime resident
designer, whose graphic designs, especially his work for Nut Tree, shaped - and continue to shape - the city's identity, died Friday afternoon of natural causes.
He was 83.
A memorial service is expected to be held the second week of July at Nadeau Family Funeral Home in Vacaville, with a reception afterward in the Vacaville Museum courtyard.
'I think the community of Vacaville was gifted with the fact that Don Birrell chose to settle in this community, to give his gifts throughout the years," said Richard Rico, retired publisher of The Reporter, artist and longtime Birrell friend.
Shawn Lum, executive director of the Vacaville Museum, agreed, calling Birrell "the finest aesthetic mind in Solano County."
Best-known for his logo designs, Birrell defined the city's image - and some of Northern California's - for the past five decades.The Corona native, who grew up in Folsom and Sacramento, designed countless logos for Nut Tree, the landmark Vacaville restaurant and gift shop that closed in 1996, for which Birrell served as design director for 37 years.Additionally, he designed logos for The Reporter's front-page masthead (the rooster), the city of Vacaville, the Vacaville Performing Arts Theatre, the Coffee Tree restaurant, Solano Bank, the Factory Stores tower signs, Hearn Construction and the California State Fair, among many others.
And whether they know it or not, thousands of people every day see Birrell's designs rolling up and down Northern California interstate highways: those bright and cheery images on the sides of Raley's supermarket semi-tractor trailers.He also designed
"The way I personally see things have been impacted by Don, because he always saw things that I don't see."
Lum remembered her "most poignant moment" with Birrell, coming just before his one-man life and art retrospective in 2003 at the Buck Avenue museum, "Don Birrell by design."
A U.S. Army veteran of World War II, Birrell graduated from Chouinard Art Institute of Los Angeles in 1949.He then taught design at the University of Alabama, until 1950.He returned to California to become the director of Sacramento's Crocker Art Museum, from 1950 to 1953.
Ed Power recalled hiring Birrell for the Nut Tree job, saying, "He was an exceptional person and a very good designer and very good friend - and like a brother.
Birrell was preceded in death by his wife, Doris, in 2004.
Don Birrell 1922-2006

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