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Steelers' Baron Batch takes a run at art world

| Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, 9:01 p.m.
Baron Batch
'The Forest' by Baron Batch
Baron Batch
'When It Rains' by Baron Batch

Steelers running back Baron Batch has made a living dodging tackles and charging end zones, but now he's finding a new groove as an artist.

Batch has never taken an art class in his life, but he is set to host his first art show next month at Pavillion X, Downtown. Proceeds benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

“I've always been passionate about art and about helping people ... but I never thought six months ago I'd have an art show,” says the second-year player.

Batch, 24, says he's always been creative, but took to painting a few months ago while rehabbing from a knee injury he suffered last year.

The walls of Batch's home were bare when he moved in. But instead of rushing out to buy some from an art house or big-box retailer, he painted his own decor and framed it. Batch then found himself with more time on his hands last season when he tore an anterior cruciate ligament in training camp.

“I needed a hobby,” he says. “I figured it can't be that hard, so I just tried it.”

Don't go thinking that because Batch, who made the 53-man squad over the summer, lives his life between hash marks that all of his artwork reflects his days on the gridiron.

It's not so.

His portfolio of paintings includes landscapes, the Roberto Clemente Bridge and portraits. And no Baron Batch collection would be complete without depictions of his trademark bow ties.

A few people have begun to notice his prowess with a paintbrush.

“It's inspired work,” says Sherry Jo Matt, who got the ball rolling with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to set up the fundraiser. “He captures a lot. So much that you wouldn't think he's only been at this for a couple months.”

Painting isn't his first voyage into the art world. It's just the latest.

While in college, Batch bought his first camera, a Canon 7D, and has evolved into a skilled photographer. His portfolio, much of which appears on his personal website — baronbatch.com — features images that chronicle his trips to Haiti, Hawaii and Belize, along with iconic shots of PNC Park and other Pittsburgh landmarks.

Batch recalls favoring picture books and National Geographic magazines growing up in West Texas and says he got into photography about four years ago.

Pittsburgh doubles as an artistic muse, he says.

“At first, when I started (painting), there were things I'd see that inspired me — bridges, rivers, hills.

“They were just interesting because it was so different from where I grew up,” Batch says. “The more I got into it ... the more I kept up with it.

“Pittsburgh's a real cool, creative place in general,” he says. “Just being here around creative people helps.”

Chris Ramirez is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at cramirez@tribweb.com or 412-380-5682

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