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Landmark McDonald's mural vandalized, painted over

November 14, 2012 | 12:18 pm

The mural that covered a large wall facing the McDonald's near the intersection of Edinger Avenue and Edwards Street in Huntington Beach. Credit: John Patterson / Special to Times Community News

A landmark mural outside a McDonald's restaurant in Huntington Beach had to be painted over after it was vandalized. Someone wrote "VEGAN" in block letters across the artwork.

McDonald's officials said they had no choice but to remove the mural, but hope to replace it with a new one.

Times Community News columnist Chris Epting wrote about the mural and its history:

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.

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.'"

Danosian loved Huntington Beach, and many of us loved his mural. Recently, the McDonald's was remodeled. One morning last month, I noticed a sizable part of the mural was painted over with a beige patch. Were they just protecting it? I asked inside the liquor store, but they didn't know. Then, last week, the day the restaurant reopened, the mural was completely gone, all painted over. It was like losing a friend.

So what happened?

I called John Patterson, who has been the operation supervisor at the restaurant since 1992. He said that last month, during the renovation, the mural had been badly vandalized. "We were heartbroken when we came in the next morning and saw this," he told me. "In 20 years, we had never had any graffiti vandals touch the mural."

That's what prompted the first patch. He said the mural was finally painted over because it could not have been saved. It was merely put out of its misery. However, Patterson said he hopes they can create a community project to re-create the original. "I worked here with Saeed," he told me. "He was running shifts while he painted it. Then he came and touched it up later on. He was a very special and talented man. We want to re-create his legacy somehow on that wall. His work deserved better than what happened."

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-- Times staff writer

Photo: The mural that covered a large wall facing the McDonald's near the intersection of Edinger Avenue and Edwards Street in Huntington Beach. Credit: John Patterson / Special to Times Community News

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