Sunday, August 19, 2012

A New Commission - The Battle of Peleliu

Ken on the path to creating a new painting on the Battle of Peleliu.

Sometimes wars have their quiet moments, hushes in the sounds of gunfire and expletives. And so it is in the reenacting world.

Ken and I found ourselves in the throes of such a moment during a recent private reenactment. We had driven five hours to the site of a WWII-based reenactment involving Japanese and American troops – all this in a most unlike spot for such a battle – Gettysburg, PA. As we drove down a dirt road, we wondered if we would time warp and if so, would we not find ourselves in the August heat of the Civil War?

Instead we did find ourselves in the pseudo-1940s, seemingly quite alone in an abandoned registration area. Ken had hoped to time our arrival toward the end of the reenactment, but we were early. We listened, expecting to hear the various shots and dramatics of those participating, but all was quiet. Ken walked down the road a way, hoping not to stumble into the middle of anything, but only found the deserted Japanese camp.

Ken gets comfortable during his latest photo shoot.

The things that one must do for their art. Finding Japanese re-enactors has been a definite challenge for Ken. In his latest historical art pursuit, his subject is the WWII Pacific Theatre Battle of Peleliu. This is why we were here, hoping to find a picturesque and authentic portrayal of the ill-fated Japanese troops.

As we waited for signs of life and organized ourselves for the photo shoot, WWII marines began to filter out of the shadows and into the registration area. Several carried large plastic containers of water. The reenactment had culminated and many seemed most enthusiastic about retuning to the 21st century.

The organizer and property owner also emerged and introduced us to the models Ken would spend the next few hours photographing. We moved our vehicle, and created a space in their camp for the photo shoot. The guys who posed were wonderful to work with and extremely patient, even in the heat.

As I monitored Ken's light situation, I looked over at a truck that had pulled up along our beaten path. A man lounged against the driver-side door and commenced to watch Ken's efforts. As my eyes focused, I realized I was looking at a civil war solider. Oddly, he was the one out of place.

Posted by L.S. King