Coastline Pilot: "Artists from a war-torn land showing in Laguna" / by Harun Mehmedinovic

"The Spirit"
Green Cube Gallery's 'Bosnian Born' features varied work by 24 artists who fled the conflict in their homeland.

May 24, 2012 | By Joanna Clay

 Large prints by photographer Ivan Hrkas hang on the wall of the Green Cube Gallery, which will showcase the art of Bosnian artists who fled the deadly war in that region.

Large prints by photographer Ivan Hrkas hang on the wall… (DON LEACH, Coastline…)

When Green Cube Gallery owner Sejla Holland reached out to Bosnian artist Harun Mehmedinovic for "Bosnian Born," he remarked that he hadn't seen such an exhibit done before.

And when Mehmedinovic, 29, looked over the exhibiting artists lineup, curious if he'd see some familiar names, he paused upon two of them: Seyo Cizmic and Kemal Hadzic.

Mehmedinovic knows the two men from Bosnia. When he was around 9 years old, his family fled his city under siege. The men took them in.

"Had they not been there ... I wouldn't be alive," he said.

Mehmedinovic, Cizmic and Hadzic are three of 24 artists featured in "Bosnian Born," which began May 20 and runs through Sept. 1.

The free exhibit showcases Bosnian artists who fled the 1992 to 1995 conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The works in the exhibit are varied, from clothing and jewelry to paintings, furniture and photography.

"It was just a testament that the creative spirit was not damaged by something so invasive as war," Holland said, a fellow Bosnian refugee who fled in 1994.

Edina Seleskovic's mixed-media pieces for "Bosnian Born" show snapshots into her memory of her homeland. Incorporated into the charcoal sketch of a writhing body of an undressed woman are images of Bosnian women and history. Outside the body are excerpts from newspapers.

Ivan Hrkas' pop culture-infused work is a juxtaposition to pieces like Seleskovic's. He uses Bosnian women to depict icons from the 20th and 21st centuries, such as Anne Frank and Amy Winehouse on one wall and Frida Kahlo and Twiggy on another.

Photographer Dean Zulich, who shoots for Playboy Magazine and appeared on the Vh1 reality show "The Shot," started a new body of work for the exhibit. One of the pieces from the series, "Mask," sits in the gallery's window. He said he was honored to be part of the event and commemorate his country.

Mehmedinovic, a filmmaker by trade, submitted a photograph from a project he's working on called bloodhoney.

His photograph features a woman walking through a snowstorm. It was a rare moment captured 30 minutes outside Los Angeles, he said.

Hadzic's photography show distinct contrasts. On one wall is a black-and-white image, taken during the war, that shows empty streets at dawn; on another wall are shots from his life in Arizona, featuring similarly deserted nature landscapes.

Mehmedinovic came with Hadzic to the United States in 1996, where'd he go on to graduate from UCLA and attend the American Film Institute. Mehmedinovic said one of the first photographs he ever took was with Hadzic's camera.

"Just by chance, [Holland] found them and grouped us all together," he said. "There's some kind of higher voice at work. There was something else to bring us together. I can't believe it is by chance."

Other artists in the show include Bojan Bahic, Lejla Hodzic, Ajla Durbuzovic, Amila Hrustic, Numan Huseinbegovic, Mia Hebib, Amila Hodzic, Milan Senic, Endi Poskovic, Nebojsa "Shoba" Seric, Irfan Redzovic, Ina Soltani, Sabina VajracaVanja Lisac, Aida Sehovic and items made by OshYosh, Kao Pao Shu and Rukotvorine.

About one-third of the show's proceeds are going to the Bosana Foundation, whose efforts to support Bosnian youth includes providing university scholarships and tutoring at orphanages.

The Green Cube Gallery is at 264 Forest Ave. For more information, call (949) 494-1550.

Twitter: @joannaclay