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.
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.
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.
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.