Cool off with culture in downtown Chandler

IMG_1807Arizonans don’t have to travel far to take advantage of cool, cultural offerings. Five air-conditioned locations in downtown Chandler offer respite from the heat and provide satisfaction for summertime cultural cravings — music, theater, art, film and literature.

At Chandler Center for the Arts, free summer concert performances start Friday Aug. 2 with the Bad Cactus Brass Band at 7 p.m. Other performances are jazz musician Dmitri Matheny on Aug. 16, a blend of flamenco and mariachi — “FlaMEXico!” on Aug. 23, and a music variety show for youth, “Plugged In” on Aug. 24. Tip: Since these shows are free and seating is first-come, first-served, you may want to get there when the doors open at 6:30 p.m. Allow extra time to check out the center’s gallery.

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Xico Arte y Cultura Galeria is an art gallery, shop and studio dedicated to traditional arts and crafts by Native American and Latino cultures. Find jewelry, paintings, multimedia art, folk arts and crafts at the shop, located on the west side of A.J. Chandler Park. Many of the items carry colorful Dia de los Muertos themes. Tip: Check this non-profit organization’s Facebook page for upcoming special exhibits and artist demonstrations. Open Wednesday through Saturday noon to 5 p.m.

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Stop by the versatile Vision Gallery and view special exhibits: “Decision Portraits by Susan Lenz” until July 26 or “Fine Art Photography by David Miller” beginning Aug. 2. About 300 regional artists’ works are on a rotating display. Don’t miss the popular “Art-O-Mat” — itself a mini art gallery, a showcase of mini art. It’s really a converted cigarette machine. Hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tip: Sign up for the gallery newsletter and you’ll get first news about special exhibitions and artists’ opening night receptions.

Cool off with a “hot” read from Chandler Public Library’s Friends of the Library summer book sale. Buy Library discard books at 4 for $1 through the month of July! And if you stop by on Tuesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. through Aug. 6, you can watch a showing of one of the flicks in the Get Reel Documentary Film Series hosted by the Library in partnership with Public Television’s Point of View series. Tip: Don’t forget your library card to check out a Cultural Pass for free local museum visits.

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Gangplank, downtown Chandler’s collaborative workspace, comes alive with arts, crafts and music as the indoor location of the Downtown Chandler Art Walk on third Fridays during the summer months. Desks and computers make way for displays of sculpture, photography, painting, ceramics and jewelry from 6 to 10 p.m. So if you don’t have plans yet for this Friday, July 19: Come and enjoy music by Chris Buzan and a glass of wine while you stroll through the exhibits at Gangplank, located at 260 S. Arizona Ave. Learn more about Gangplank and its Wednesday brownbag series talks, health initiatives, community classes, business workshops by visiting the website or signing up for the weekly newsletter. Tip: Park in the city parking garage directly across the street, on the east side of Arizona Avenue. (Entrance to the garage is on its east side — off of Washington Street. It’s No. 10 on this handy downtown Chandler parking map.)

Combine any of these “artsy” venue visits with dinner at one of downtown Chandler’s cool restaurants, and you have the makings of a masterpiece — a memorable night out on the town.

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Corporate art gallery part of Eddie Basha’s legacy

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

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 and hallways. But it’s a little known fact that Arizona supermarket giant, Bashas’ Stores, has maintained a vast collection of American Cowboy and Native American art, basketry, jewelry and artifacts in its Chandler, Ariz. headquarters.

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 just catch your eye, they invite your curiosity.

Bronze piece shows intricate details of animals

Bronze piece shows intricate details of animals

Zelma Basha Salmeri was an aunt of Basha’s Stores Chairman and CEO Eddie Basha Jr. (Eddie Basha died March 26.)  Zelma passed along her love of art to her nephew and encouraged his hobby as a collector. This collection began as 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

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 numerous front covers of “Saturday Evening Post” magazine. Display cases created with hammered copper and glass protect fine examples of silver, turquoise and coral jewelry, Zuni fetishes and seed pots.

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

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

Bashas’ Art Gallery visitors 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 better appreciate 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.

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.

Note: This AzGetawayTravel.com blog post originally was published April 21, 2011. I wanted to reprise an updated version now to honor the late Eddie Basha Jr. I believe this amazing corporate art gallery that Eddie opened to everyone not only exemplifies his passion for southwestern art, but also shows how much he cared for his community and Arizona. 

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Mall shopping in Chandler? Stop by city’s historic home

Fountain at Chandler's McCullough-Price House

If you’re shopping at or near Chandler Fashion Center this holiday season, you may want to take a break from the busy stores and stop by the McCullough-Price House, one of Chandler’s historic homes.

Now a museum, the McCullough-Price House may offer a calm change of pace for the hurried holiday shopping scene. Huge shade trees surround the home, originally built for Michigan winter visitor William D. McCullough. The house was owned by the Price family from 1950 to 2001 at which time it was donated to the City of Chandler. It was opened as a museum in 2007.

Your out-of-town holiday visitors will enjoy learning about Chandler’s history at the home, which now houses archives of official documents, digitized images of The Chandler Arizonan newspaper, many photos and family records. The archives are made available for research on an appointment basis. Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. visitors may stroll through the interior rooms, examining the displays and spend some quiet time around the the lush, park-like grounds. You’d never know this little corner of history and serene surroundings is immediately adjacent one of Arizona’s largest shopping districts.

Front door designs copy the motifs from Native America petroglyphsThe most interesting item on the property is the house itself. Built in 1938 in the pueblo-revival style of architecture, the house has many fascinating design features. The front door frame is made from granite with petroglyph replicas. Like the front door, the garage doors on the north side of the house have a geometric design in wood, in an Art Deco style. I found it interesting that a house built in 1938 would have a three-car garage, although the ‘garage doors’ have been permanently sealed. The center door has been remodeled into an alternate exit. Massive interior and exterior beams, large square columns and plaster are defining elements of this popular style of Southwest-style architecture. Some of the house’s features, such as the light fixtures, were added recently as part of the renovation, but are still noteworthy. These were reconstructed from the original plans.

Best advantages about visiting Price-McCullough House in between mall shopping trips? Located at 300 South Chandler Village Drive, it’s literally right next to Chandler Fashion Center. There are no waiting lines. And it’s easy on the wallet — free!

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Three-entry garage on north side of McCullough-Price House

Front door shows Art Deco and pueblo revival style popular during the 1930s

Banners tell the history of Chandler's cotton farming

Pueblo revival style ceiling beams and lighting

Ornate vase on display at McCullough-Price House

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.

Find AzGetawayTravel.com on Twitter and Facebook