Seal Beach: Recycling the Past, Art and Good Times


We all know what to do when life gives us lemons. But life gave Dixie Dohrmann a black 1966 Volkswagen Beetle. Without an engine. So Dohrmann did what she does when life gives her just about anything, from a pile of empty egg crates to mounds of plastic milk-bottle caps to dozens of pizza boxes and even more paint sticks. She made art. More precisely, she helped children remake “Arty,” the moniker that now sticks to the VW, along with countless layers of brightly colored paint, some strategically placed paper cups, a few Legos and a giant rooftop party hat.

The rolling objet d’art sits next to the window at the Artmaker (12371 Seal Beach Blvd.), the children’s studio and party place Dohrmann founded and runs in Seal Beach with help from a few of her friends. Drop-in classes are Saturdays at 1 p.m. for all ages and Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. for parents and their 2- to 5-year-olds. Both classes are $8. Other events include sessions in everything from cooking to acrylic painting. Call (877) 203-0242 or (562) 596-8896 for a complete schedule.

Though Arty reflects the studio’s emphasis on turning everyday items into works of self-expression, it would also make a good mascot for the Rossmoor Shopping Center. This collection of shops, restaurants and recreation centers long ago outlived its youth, but it continues to recycle itself as a center of fun.


A short walk from the Artmaker is a restaurant whose design matches the whimsy of some of the works Dohrmann’s students concoct. The Parasol (12241 Seal Beach Blvd., [562] 598-3311) was born of that fun era in Southern California architecture when restaurants were often shaped to match their theme. And like the Brown Derby and the Tail of the Pup in Los Angeles, the Parasol rises like a giant Monopoly piece on Seal Beach Boulevard. Inside, light fixtures shaped like pink parasols hang from a vaulted ceiling that climbs to a point. The vinyl booths and counter stools are pure ‘60s, though they’re reproductions. The Parasol offers omelets (ham, sausage, bacon and cheese, $6.45), homemade meatloaf ($6.95) and old-fashioned pot roast ($7.95). The Monday-night special is still fried chicken, but now it’s $5.95 instead of $1.

Getting there: The Rossmoor Shopping Center is on Seal Beach Boulevard just north of the San Diego Freeway.

* A new Discover Orange County will run next Sunday in the Orange County Calendar.


Rossmoor Center

1. The Parasol

12241 Seal Beach Blvd.

(562) 598-3311

2. The Artmaker

12371 Seal Beach Blvd.

(562) 596-8896