Basha’s Art Gallery: A hidden masterpiece

It’s no secret that corporate offices throughout the country are filled with famous works of art. Paintings, sculpture, multimedia creations from nationally-known and regional artists occupy the walls, cases and pedestals of corporate galleries, lobbies, hallways and lounges. But it’s a little known fact that Arizona supermarket giant, Basha’s, has maintained a vast collection of American Cowboy and Native American art, basketry, jewelry and artifacts in its Chandler headquarters.

Basha’s Art Gallery front hall features works by Joe Beeler

The Zelma Basha Salmeri Gallery of Western American and Native American Art houses over 3,000 pieces in a wide range of media: oil, watercolor, acrylics, charcoal and pastels on canvas and paper as well as three-dimensional works in bronze, wood, granite, marble. The Pima and Apache baskets, Zuni and Navajo jewelry and Hopi kachinas not only “catch the eye;” they entice the visitor’s curiosity.

Bronze piece shows intricate details of animals

Zelma Basha Salmeri was an aunt of board chairman and CEO Eddie Basha Jr., who died March 26. Zelma passed along her love of art to her nephew and encouraged his hobby as a collector, so this collection is a tribute to her. He began collecting these works in 1971, and continued to expand the gallery throughout his life.

Contemporary pieces include ink and watercolor paintings

Many of the artists can be identified with the organization of western artists, Cowboy Artists of America. Joe Beeler, James Reynolds, Howard Terpning and George Phippen are represented here as well as John Clymer, who is known for his western art and his famous magazine art used on 80 front covers of “Saturday Evening Post.” Display cases created with hammered copper and glass boast fine examples of silver, turquoise and coral jewelry, Zuni fetishes and seed pots.

Paintings often depict an eventful scene as in John Clymer’s

Basha’s Art Gallery-goers should opt to take a few minutes to read the captions – to learn about the scene’s background and become acquainted with the artist. Then one can ascertain how each work is the sum of much historical data collection, creative imagination and technical interpretation. These artists must have also carried a fierce determination, as if it’s a parallel to their subjects and the spirit of the American frontier.

One part of the Kachina (or katsina) collection

There is no charge to visit the gallery, located in south Chandler, at 22402 S. Basha Road. Hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit the website.

Yavapai, Navajo, Apache and Pima tribes represented in the basket room

Note: This blog post first appeared April 21, 2011. I wanted to reprise an updated version now as kind a personal tribute to the late Eddie Basha Jr. I believe this amazing art gallery that Mr. Basha opened to all demonstrates how much he cared about his community as well as Arizona’s diverse history and cultural heritage.

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Seven Falls Hike — April 2011

I had an old friend that used to joke, “you know, I think I’ve lost my speaking ability — between eating my words and biting my tongue… I don’t have much left to say.” That’s what I remembered when we finished our hike to Seven Falls, just outside of Tucson at the foot of the Santa Catalina Mountains.

I had suggested to my hiking friends hours earlier that I thought this Bear Canyon Trail hike was a “fairly easy” one and that sometime we should combine with a loop around Sabino Canyon by connecting to the East Fork/Sycamore Reservoir trails.  Afterwards, I wanted to eat my words. And half way up the trail, as my lungs were heaving and my heart was pounding, I wanted to bite my tongue, but the words just fell out: “Is it very much farther?” I asked some returning hikers. But they reassured me: “It’s just a bit, but it’s well worth it.” That was enough for me!

The hike is only about four miles from the trailhead, if you take the shuttle from the Sabino Canyon visitors center, otherwise it’s about eight miles round trip. My advice: save your money and walk along the road to the trailhead.  By the time you wait for the shuttle bus, you could have walked that far — it’s about a 15-20 minute walk from the center to the trailhead. And when we came back we raced down the trail back just to catch the bus, but missed it anyway.

The trail for the most part, is a combination of seven creek crossings and gradual climbing, up to the Seven Falls. The hike indeed, is moderately easy for most, but I would rate it more “moderate” and less “easy.” Especially the last mile or so, on the southern side of the creek, takes the hiker up at least half of the 800 feet total elevation change. It took us about one and a half hours to the falls, and about 45 minutes back. I would recommend taking more time to enjoy the trail. It’s “well worth it.”

Water from the creek flowing at Seven Falls

Pools of water provide cool dips; Large rocks are perfect for sunbathing

Trees provide some shade for a lunch break

The road to and from the visitors center is an easy access to the trailhead.

 

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