Young art fan surprised with gift

DOWNEY – Seven-year-old Sophia Gonzalez knew exactly what she wanted for Christmas last year. So when she climbed on Santa Claus’ lap on Christmas Eve, she wasted no time asking for “Downey Doodle-icious.” (Santa Claus must have been perplexed.)

“Downey Doodle-icious” is an art piece created by Downey resident and retired firefighter Don Lamkin. It’s a colorful collage of famous Downey institutions, such as Johnie’s Broiler, Wenzel’s Music Town and El Taco.

Lamkin created the piece three years ago as part of a fundraiser for the Downey Museum of Art. Limited edition prints now hang at several places around Downey, including downtown burger restaurant L.A. Buns, where Sophia first caught glimpse of the art.

Sophia instantly fell in love.

“On the day before Christmas we were at the Stonewood Mall for pictures and she told Santa she wanted ‘Downey Doodle-icious,’” said Sophia’s father, David. “I always knew that she liked the painting, but I didn’t know it was at the top of her list.”

Fast forward a few months and Councilman Alex Saab, a mutual friend of David Gonzalez and Don Lamkin, put the two in touch.

Touched by Sophia’s love for “Downey Doodle-icious,” Lamkin made a custom, one-of-a-kind print specifically for her.

“I don’t even call myself an artist. For it to be meaningful to someone is a special feeling for me,” Lamkin said.

Lamkin surprised Sophia with the print March 28 at L.A. Buns.

Sophia, who won Little Miss Sweetheart and the People’s Choice Award at the Miss Downey Pageant last month, was speechless. (Rare for Sophia, her father joked.)

“The whole story made me absolutely melt,” said Lamkin, who is also vice president of the Downey Arts Coalition. “I had no clue it would be so important for her.”

“It made me feel a lot better than her,” he added. “It’s unbelievably flattering. That made my year, really.”

The print now hangs in Sophia’s bedroom.

“She really lights up when she sees it,” said David. “Without art, life would be pretty bland.”

For more information on Downey Doodle-icious, contact Don Lamkin through Facebook or email him at



Published: April 10, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 52