Rose River Memorial at Will Rogers State Beach, Santa Monica
31th December 2020.
Prayer Song of the Tongva, a Rose River Memorial project to memorialize Covid victims
Photo courtesy Marcos Lutyens
A collection of felt roses is laid out on a beach in Santa Monica. Los Angeles-based artist Marcos Lutyens said he started the Rose River Memorial in August to honor those who have died due to COVID-19.
Other fabric roses will also be placed on hedges near City Hall in recognition of other people across the Los Angeles area whom the disease has killed. All of the felt roses in next week’s exhibit, Lutyens explained, will be included in a culminating memorial in Washington, D.C., next year.
He explained he started the memorial with Tilly Hinton — whose talents include floral designing — and then with a number of other partners as a way to help communities process the human impact of the pandemic.
“Even though a lot of people got vaccinated, and hopefully we’re over the worst of it, there’s still a lot of grieving that needs to be processed,” he said.
Robin Hanna, the Burbank Tournament of Roses Association’s treasurer, assisted Lutyens with a similar memorial in Orange County in January, and recommended that he bring an exhibit to Burbank. Lutyens contacted the city in March, meeting with the Cultural Arts Commission regarding the project.
Hanna has continued working closely with the artist, helping him mount roses on fishing nets ahead of Monday’s event. Those will be hung on a large B, which itself will serve as a kind of centerpiece for the memorial.
The association, Hanna added, has also made between 4,000 and 5,000 roses for the future national memorial. The project has provided an outlet for the association’s members, who prior to the pandemic were hard at work making the city’s float for the Rose Parade.
“I have a feeling on Monday [the memorial is] going to pull some emotions up,” she said. “It’s really sweet to be able to see the roses that different people have made. They’re all so different and imaginative.”
With the number of daily deaths due to the coronavirus plummeting in the United States, Hanna hopes the Rose River Memorial will receive more roses to represent those who have already died during the past 15 months. Those wishing to do so can purchase craft kits or find instructions for making their own by visiting roseriver.memorial.
“Each one of those roses represents a person that’s no longer with us,” Hanna said. “It’s kind of mind-boggling to think about all these people that are no longer here.”
Mayor Bob Frutos Vice Mayor Jess Talamantes, Council Member Sharon Springer, Council Member Konstatine Anthony, Council Member Nick Schultz, Robin Hanna and Burbank Tournament Roses, Burbank Volunteer Program volunteers, Burbank Cultural Arts Commission, and City of Burbank Parks and Recreation Department for assisting in bringing the Rose River Memorial Project to the City of Burbank, Jill Bernshouse, Leah Harrison.
Jocelyn F. Wright
“River of Tears”
“Net of Souls” Memorial poem
Cantor Rebekah Mirsky
R’faeinu (Heal Us)
A prayer in English and Hebrew
R’faeinu (Heal Us)
Prayer for Rain
Connie Nassios and Ken Berry
One More Day Like This
A Tribute Celebrating and Honoring COVID Deaths