Adolf Benca, 21, has done hundreds of paintings, drawings and sculptures since he first began studying art 13 years ago in his native Czechoslovakia under noted sculptor Alexander Vika. Now two of Benca’s etchings have been bought by New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Born in Bratislava, Benca (pronounced Ben-sa) was 9 when his first work, a print of the sun, was published on the cover of a national children’s magazine. Two years later his father, a physics teacher, took the family on a “vacation” to visit Adolf’s aunt in Vienna. In fact, the Bencas were leaving their homeland for good. After six months in an Austrian refugee camp, they headed for Chicago, where the elder Benca (now an electrical engineer) had a cousin. While at Grayslake Community High School, Adolf attended the Chicago Art Institute. In 1977 he enrolled at New York’s Cooper Union, where all 84 pieces in his one-man show last December were sold, netting him $10,000. Benca’s brooding canvases, such as The Red River Is the Likeness of the Virgin Bride in a Wedding, at left, are often done in swirls of crimson and pink (“very passionate colors to me”) and revolve about a basic theme: the Danube. “I grew up on the Danube,” explains Adolf, who often labors in his Manhattan studio from 9 a.m. to 3 the following morning. “The river is my metaphor.”
Robin Le Count, 19, a freckle-faced, 5’3″ second-year student in political science and economics at Stanford, hardly looks like she can flip a 170-pound quarterback. But she can. In her weight class (107-114), Le Count is one of the top women black belts in the U.S. “I can hold my own with big guys,” boasts Robin. Indeed, coed friends, concerned for their safety, sometimes have her walk them to the library at night. When Spokane-born Le Count first asked to take judo lessons with her younger brothers, her mother objected on the grounds that it was unladylike. But Robin’s building contractor father prevailed, and at 13, she won the junior nationals in San Bruno, Calif. There she was spotted by Stanford’s judo coach, Willy Cahill, who took her under his wing. At 17, she won all her matches at the International Team Tournament in Germany and a gold medal at the Pan Am championships in Mexico City. Last fall I Le Count captured a silver at 1980’s premier event, the Canadian Cup in Quebec. In addition to her weekly 21-hour class load and 10 hours of judo instruction, Le Count’s regimen includes 100 sit-ups and 100 push-ups daily. Robin hopes to become a lawyer and eventually a judge. Meantime she works summers for her father—running a jackhammer.