A Harmonious Life: Art is Everything
Within you dwells a sacred peace, where spirit soars and life is free - Baron Batch
Art is… there are a multitude of ways to end this sentence; each one of them like the rays of the sun bursting through the leaves of a tree, flaring our lenses with extraordinary light and hitting our skin with the warmth of presence. Baron Batch- as proclaimed on his website- is a multidimensional artist, poet, entrepreneur, painter, designer, community organizer, and positivity activist. He’s an exceptional human being, an inspiration to the very idea of living. Living free. A free life filled with peace. A Harmonious Life is about Baron Batch and this life. A life of spirituality, liberty, beauty, peace, love, generosity, simplicity and connection.
He is my favorite artist and someone I’ve followed from afar for a very long time now. From meeting him during his football days, my seventh grade cheeks shook from smiling while I wore his jersey and shook his hand, I was a young fan meeting someone I looked up to. Baron Batch left the NFL in 2013. When I quit baseball, I was inspired by Mr. Batch because he began to, as the film puts it, “living what he was created to do.” Baron lives in Pittsburgh and is “known for his ‘FREE’ art drops, a scavenger hunt way of sharing his paintings around the world, where a piece of art is left at a location with clues to the location allowing whoever finds it to take it for free. This is a tool to facilitate spontaneous adventure, and human interaction.”
He was born and raised in Midland, Texas, in the flat dirt of the West Texas desert. He grew up with his creativity inside of him, waiting to flourish. As a kid, he saw a profile of an elephant one day at the library and was amazed, knowing there was more in the world and growing ever more curious about it. I was also partly raised in Midland, Texas and as a child I had a broad imagination, a curiosity for the world, and only later would a cerebral fascination with elephants also turn up. Those formidable kings of the land, a dominating yet peaceful existence. I say these things not to parallel my life with Baron Batch, but to explore the theme of connection. We’re all connected and whether people know it or not, we all have an impact on one another. My favorite quote of his: “The trick is to care about everyone while not caring what they think.” In the film, Baron always talks about having heroes around. If I were to make a list of heroes in my life, Baron Batch would be on it, right under my parents. Not only because of his art, but because of his outlook and spirit.
When I met him again in college, speaking at his alma mater (and also mine), I was struck again by his attitude. His lecture was enlightening. I went home that day and looked at his paintings that I owned, hanging in the bedroom of my college house. Two elephants with contorted bodies, accentuating the head, ears, and trunks; half of a red heart coming off the heads, a resounding splash and stroke of colors framed by green edges; the trunks curling upward to the superposed “iii” signature (a recurring iconography of his work). A peaceful existence amid the beauty and color of life. Free life. The light of free life that every one of us contains. We just have to find it, use it, and cherish it. Create with it. “We all have what he has,” someone says in the film. “Limitless possibilities,” Baron says. “It’s all possible.”
A Harmonious Life is a short little film, running a powerful 32 minutes. A wonderful collage of beautiful shots, sunshine, people and Baron painting; close-ups of his paint-covered hands, voiceovers of different people defining what art is to them, and a camera catching the laughter and hugs in the community of Pittsburgh. An ambient score over it all. It’s simple but that is why it is delightful. A vital breath of tranquility. Baron’s life is one that I’ve looked to for inspiration and empowerment, his words inspire my love of life and creating art while his worldview resonates deeply with me. Reading Malone Matinee, this is quite clear and maybe a little redundant, how often I incorporate my love of life and its moments (the good and bad) into my movie reviews and analysis.
When I found out Baron Batch was making this film, I was excited to watch it and write about it, since this is a film blog. Cinema is the first art form I truly loved, but when it came to creating, it was words. Like Baron, sports were just an external achievement, I knew there was something inside of me. Something more. Something that could fulfill me internally. “Art comes from within,” Baron says. I realized, while I was thinking hard one day, that I’d been telling stories since I was a kid. With the imagination that I have, I am a storyteller. I fell in love with words. How you can write down what you’re feeling, almost making them tangible. The distinction between speaking and writing compelled me, my inability to articulate vocally was futile, the power was in the creating, the art of putting words on a page or screen, telling a story. The playing, the flow, the contemplation and coming together of it, like the joy of looking forward to something. The beauty of syntax. Then the vigorous courage of sharing it.
Another person’s assessment in the movie: “Art is visualizing your feelings.” Words are visualized, whether in your head, through a camera, or on a canvas. I love how words can be transformed. From the words of a script to the screen. Then these visuals can be transitioned back into words through reviews and analysis. Another reason I love to write about cinema. Baron himself is described as a “writer who paints.” His paintings are visualizations of his words but sometimes they coincide with his written musings or poems that are just as magnificent as his paintings.
“Rational thought always snuffs out intuitive motion,” Baron declares. I agree. It was a sudden decision when I began to create with words. It felt right. The consequences and implications of this doesn’t matter. I am free to create. It’s a joy to “get to create with how you choose to exist in the world while you’re here.”
“A lot of the most valuable work that I do and will do is just sitting still and being quiet. And find that when I do that, things become pretty harmonious.” This is Baron Batch. A thinker discovering harmony through the knowledge of simplicity. The artist in the moment. A believer in the spirit inside of us that makes us free. Free to create and free to live. His life isn’t just his art either. It’s in his relationships, his generosity and impact on the Pittsburgh community which is very evident in the film. Pittsburgh is a lucky city to have Baron Batch- a proponent of life and love and connection- share his artwork, his empowering words, and encouraging presence. Baron Batch is evidence that living is fully of beauty, adventure, exploration and that our friendships and relationships are what matter the most. A “positivity activist” is a wonderful title to have. A much needed one. Watch A Harmonious Life, be still and listen. It’s possible to live a creative life with peace and kindness. As he often says, "You are made for amazing things." It is true. We all are.
“Art is love, art is free thinking, art is visualizing your feelings, art is joy, art is everywhere.” All correct descriptions of what art is heard through voiceovers in the film. I’d like to oblige and relay my account of what art is: Art is storytelling and the assurance of life and its beauty. Through this, somewhere and somehow, peace and clarity is found. My homepage says “Cinema is the greatest art in the world” and that is not necessarily true. I just say that because it is my favorite art. My favorite way to wallow in catharsis, to garner empathy, and be inspired to write. All art is great and art is life. And life is the greatest art in the world.
You can watch A Harmonious Life and purchase his artwork on his website: https://art-by-baron-batch.myshopify.com/