Pfc. David Smith, a computer networks specialist assigned to Headquarters Troop, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division surveys paintings for sale at an art fair at Contingency Operating Site Kalsu, Iraq, June 2 and 3. Artists in Babil province, where COS Kalsu is located, held a two-day art fair to sell their works and share their culture with U.S. Soldiers.
By Sgt. Ben Hutto
CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE KALSU, Iraq – Local artists displayed their work as part of an art fair in the Contingency Operating Site Kalsu dining facility, June 2 and 3.
Paintings by 15 artists from the Babil province were put on display and offered for sale.
"The art is beautiful," said Spc. David Holcombe, a generator mechanic assigned to Headquarters Company, 203rd Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. "I thought the people around here were mostly farmers. I didn't know they had so many creative artists."
The event was put together by the 1411th Civil Affairs Company.
"We wanted to bring a little cultural experience to the [base]," said Capt. Kristen Brockman, the commander of the 1411th CA Company. "The artists in this area have a tough time selling their works to locals in the area, so this is an economic development project for them."
In order to attract Soldiers, the artists kept their products affordable. Pieces ranged in price from 30 to 50 dollars.
"We felt this was a good opportunity for the Soldiers here to carry home something meaningful," said Brockman, a native of Jackson, N.J. "I think a lot of the art speaks so well about the environment here. The art really captures what the people of this area are like."
Many of the artists whose work was represented at the event were happy so many Soldiers were interested in their work.
"So far, we have sold between 65 or 70 pieces," said Ali Ghason, a local artist. "We are very happy. This was our only outlet to express ourselves and show what we can do."
Ghason was happy that American Soldiers would be taking his work back to the United States with them.
"We hope our art is a good reflection of our culture to the U.S. people," he said.
For Holcomb, a native of Leominster, Mass., the piece he purchased is a good way to remember the two deployments he served in Iraq.
"It is something to keep from Iraq to say I was there," he said. "It will look really nice in my work room back home. Who knows? Some day it may be worth something."