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Peace and Art Find Common Cause With Mother's Day at a Beach Rally

About 1,000 gather in Santa Monica to hear presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich and take part in simulating a Picasso in the sand.

May 12, 2003|Steve Hymon | Times Staff Writer

Sand, politics and aerial art made for a spirited -- if unusual -- Mother's Day celebration on a Santa Monica beach Sunday.

About 1,000 people gathered for a peace rally and a chance to form an image that from the air resembled Picasso's "Motherhood," in which a mother embraces her child. Imagine "Beach Blanket Bingo" meets "Primary Colors," and that was the scene.

The featured speaker at the rally was longshot presidential candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), one of Congress' most outspoken opponents of the war against Iraq. He stood on stage in dress shirt and tie, giving a speech to hundreds sprawled in the sand before him.

The rally was organized by CodePink, a women's group for peace, as a tribute to the first Mother's Day in 1870, when women gathered to mourn losing their sons in the Civil War.

The event kicked off when Anita Campion, of the Los Angeles Women's Circle, asked the crowd to stand and join in a blessing to "honor all the women at this moment who are delivering and bringing forth new life."

With the smell of incense in the air, political commentator Arianna Huffington took the stage and quickly shoved aside any Mother's Day's niceties to excoriate an appearance by Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) on one of the Sunday morning news shows.

Then it was Kucinich's turn. Although some in the crowd said they had no idea who Kucinich was, his suggestion that a U.S. Department of Peace be formed was greeted warmly and his 15-minute speech earned him a standing ovation.

"There are those who believe in perpetual war, aggressive war ... we must reject those doctrines," said Kucinich, whose comments targeted President Bush.

Most political pundits consider Kucinich to have a slim chance of capturing the Democratic nomination next year in a crowded field of nine candidates. Kucinich has raised far less money than his rivals and, as evidenced Sunday, his politics are to the left of most Democrats.

"I sent e-mails to my son and said this is what I'd like to do on Mother's Day," said Laurie Fox, 54, of Los Angeles, as she sat in the sand with her son, Andrew Rozendal.

"I wanted to hear Kucinich, but I wanted to be here primarily because I believe in peace, and this seemed like a good way to celebrate Mother's Day," she said. "It just felt like the right thing to do."

The feature event was the formation of the Picasso image. The crowd stood in a long line, as several so-called aerial artists directed them to sit along ribbons that had been staked in the sand earlier.

Several sunbathers were absorbed into the image as it took shape. Those who were part of the artwork were entertained by a Riverside County woman dressed in a sunflower costume, who danced and writhed.

Finally, after much waiting, a helicopter arrived and began circling overhead. Those in the image hunched down, trying to make a clean image for the photographers in the chopper.

The surf crashed, a sunflower danced, there were prayers for peace, and it was another Mother's Day in Southern California.

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