Nestled in the Kennesaw State recreation center’s bicycle shop are several alluring works of art intricately made up of trinkets, gizmos and gadgets all carefully crafted by the assistant director of outdoor adventures.
Ed Baltes has hand-crafted each design — including wooden tables, lamps and all artwork featured on the surrounding walls that make up the bicycle shop.
When the recreation center was first under construction, more than eight massive oak trees were cut down to make way for the establishment. Rather than discard the extravagant trees that were more than 200 years old, Tara Parker — director of the department of sports and recreation — asked Baltes if he could use the wood for his art.
This turned into a project that would take more than two years to complete.
Baltes combined his mechanical skills with his passion for art to fashion the wood into 12 pieces of furniture that are located in KSU’s recreation center. The furniture comprises of counter tops, side tables, desks and even the pallet wood that lines the walls of the bicycle shop.
“When we got the new space opened I was able to actually bring in some of my work to help decorate our area, and it fit,” Baltes said. “Outdoor adventures and outdoor recreation: they reclaim, recycle and up-cycle.”
Baltes is a true nature-lover, which is easily demonstrated through the outdoorsy theme prevalent in his artwork.
“A lot of my art will reflect organic life,” Baltes said. “That’s just something within me.”
Baltes has a love for bicycling, which inspired a lot of the artwork in the bicycle shop.
He has been in the bicycle industry for more than 30 years, beginning as a road cycler prior to finding his true passion for mountain biking. He feels that mountain biking takes on an entirely different perspective to road biking, as it places bikers directly in the middle of nature.
“[When] mountain biking, you have a love of nature and want to be in nature,” Baltes said.
In the first, biennial campus-wide employee art show, Baltes won second place in the intermediate category with his work “Lantern/Lamp” and received the People’s Choice Award with his piece “Koi Fish.”
Baltes creates his art from true passion and prefers not to sell his creations.
“I think I’ve given away more art than I’ve sold, and I enjoy that,” he said. “I enjoy knowing that people like my work and that is payment enough.”
A lot of Baltes’ art consists of a combination of welding and mechanical trade expertise.
“I’ve always been mechanical,” he said. “I used to build model airplanes as a kid, but I was never patient enough to let the glue dry. Welding combined my love of mechanics and instant gratification.”
Baltes has been working for the recreation department since 2007. He is a proud KSU alumnus, graduating in 2009 within the health and physical education program.
“I feel very fortunate to have Tara Parker and Sandefur Porter to allow me to be me,” he said. “I wouldn’t have been able to do a lot of what I’ve done without their support.”