Former Texas Tech Running Back Baron Batch Tackles Art and Salsa-making

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Baron Batch is one passionate man.

The artist, writer, salsa maker and former Texas Tech star running back spoke to us over the phone while he traveled to Lubbock for its First Friday Art Trail. And with each question we asked, Batch answered with a detailed story. And a passionate one at that.

This weekend he will be at the Rachel Nash Gallery in Deep Ellum to show off his newest artwork, including paintings and collages.

Batch was cut from the Pittsburgh Steelers nearly a year ago after a brief, injury hampered pro career, but he always knew football wouldn't be forever.

Batch recently revealed on Twitter that he was asked to play again, but declined.

"[The decision] was actually really easy, and that's how I knew it was the right decision," he said. "The right decisions are typically the easiest ones and once it got to the point where I realized that being a successful artist is just as competitive as being successful in football, I got more fulfillment out of my art."

Even when Batch was playing football, he said art was where his heart always was.

"It was my release. It was one of the things I could do and just turn my thoughts off and just focus on something."

Batch isn't one to leave the interpretation of his art up to its audience. Instead, he likes the meanings of his work to be clear.

"Every time you look at it, it's like, 'OK that's what that means to me and that's what it reminds me of.' And I'm very open about giving a meaning to each piece that I do, and a lot of artists, they don't do that," he said. "They want it to be left for interpretation, which I understand that, but at the end of the day, it can always be open for interpretation, but the latter isn't always there. You can't always know what the artist is thinking if the artist doesn't necessarily voice that."

Football and art obviously have their differences. For instance, Batch's paycheck might be lower now, but that's far from his concerns. "Money really could be my most irrelevant thing ever when it comes to being happy and doing something you really want to do."

Ever the competitor, Batch said art forces him to always improve.

"With art, you can never learn it all. You can never hit a plateau really unless you choose to."

Now that he's off the field, teammates are still finding a way to support him.

Former teammates Brett Keisel, Trey Polamalu, Seattle Seahawk Russell Okung and Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury all own pieces of Batch's work. And even George W. Bush hangs a piece on his wall.

A different form of Batch's artwork also will be in Deep Ellum this weekend -- his original recipe salsa, called Angry Man Salsa, just another thing that consumes his time.

"It's probably why I'm not playing in the NFL anymore because my time was so consumed by other things," he said. "But at the end of the day, I wouldn't have it any other way because I enjoy these things tremendously and they're a lot longer lasting than a sport is."

The opening reception for Batch's show is 8 to 10 p.m. Saturday night at 2646 Main St.

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