Czeslaw Podlesny's sculpted memories of a Polish...

SUNDAY SNAPSHOTS

November 21, 1993|By Linell Smith

Czeslaw Podlesny's sculpted memories of a Polish boyhood

Artist Czeslaw (pronounced Chess-woff) Podlesny has created a haunting breed of warriors from memories of the veterans he observed while growing up in Poland.

His men are made of stoneware and metal. They have missing legs, and their torsos are lathered with service medals. Their heads have shrunk from too many unrealized dreams that they would be treated like heroes.

Wiry, with bright blue eyes, a ginger-colored mustache and the faint smell of cigarettes about him, the 33-year-old artist is temporarily in residence at the Maryland Institute, College of Art.

He is a kiln of activity, furiously fashioning a body of work that represents the breadth of his art. The results will be shown in January at Baltimore Clayworks.

Two of his earlier pieces are on display in "Contemporary East European Ceramics," an exhibition of work by more than 70 artists from former Eastern Bloc countries. The show runs

through Dec. 12 at the St. Stanislaus Convent, 724 South Ann St. in Fells Point. Mr. Podlesny and Czech artist Jindra Vikova offer guided tours of the show at 11:30 a.m. Wednesdays and 1:30 p.m. Saturdays.

As a boy, Mr. Podlesny spent a lot of time imagining the private thoughts of the pensioners on the public benches. One veteran's face appears over and over in his work.

"My art is about people cheated out of things, about humanity," ** he says via translator Wieska Waters. "It's not really about politics per se, but you can't separate politics from art."

Mr. Podlesny also is finishing a work that mines another favorite topic: aging couples.

"It's about honesty that comes too late," he says in Polish. "The openness that came too late for a couple. This work is drawing on that expression, 'You can kill with a word.' "

You may not know his name, but you probably know his music.

The bluesy promo for the Orioles on Channel 2. The orchestral rhythms of a local Nissan ad. The frenetic theme song for Channel 45's news show.

The man behind all these melodies is Jim Ball, a mild-mannered 38-year-old former busboy/dishwasher/salesman who owns a sound studio in Hampden.

It was in his basement that Mr. Ball and his colleague, Glenn Workman, recently completed their greatest professional accomplishment -- scoring their first feature film, "Sarah's Child," due out next year on video.

For four months, they struggled to match music to the melancholy story of a woman obsessed with an imaginary child.

Although people may not remember his score at all, Mr. Ball says his work isn't an exercise in futility.

"Music is there to heighten the action or emotion, but people don't always notice it. As long as they like the film OK, the music's done its job," he says.

When he isn't hammering out songs for others, Mr. Ball's likely to be found on a nightclub stage leading his own alternative band, Jim Ball & the Suits, which won MTV's Basement Tapes Contest several years ago.

That recognition -- combined with doing his first film -- has opened many doors for Mr. Ball. He's now preparing to score a family feature for the Disney Channel.

And how does he unwind after producing music for films?

"Believe it or not," he says, "I go to the movies. I find I don't even pay attention to the score."

Mary Corey

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