Zelma Basha Salmeri Gallery of Western American and American Indian Art
I have always been fond of taking my girlfriend out on surprise dates, and Chandler happened to be an amazing treasure trove to me. So one lovely Thursday morning, after receiving many good reviews and personal recommendations, I decided to take her to the Zelma Basha Salmeri Gallery. After our not-so-quick breakfast, we hopped on my motorbike and drove to the Gallery.
The Gallery, famous for housing the most coveted Eddie-Basha Collection of Western American and American-Indian art, located in the complex of the Basha’s Corporate Headquarters at 22402 S Basha Road Chandler, AZ. It was a pleasant drive through the city. The building itself wasn’t very breathtaking; it looked more like a corporate building and less like an art gallery. We thought we landed up someplace else, but the locals assured us that this was it. The admission to the gallery was indeed free (it pleased my girl very much). Once we were inside, we were simply astounded.
The gallery was divided into two areas, one portraying the life of American Indians and another, the Old West as seen by cowboys and pioneers. We borrowed one gallery map so that we don’t miss anything out on our little date. We also learned from one lady who was guiding a group of students, that the Basha family has a strong connection to supporting education in Arizona and they have used this collection to support the Chandler School District’s program. Mr Basha had the most amazing collection of Native American sculptures, paintings, and personal items to offer, and we gladly took it all in. We went through various rooms after rooms, each different housing categories of articles such as bronzewares, sculptures, paintings, etc.
We were especially taken by how lively and detailed these paintings were. My girlfriend got stuck on many of those home made colorful woven Indian items from the 1800s and suggested that we buy some of those from Mr Basha (and looked really serious about it). It was stunning, given that it was a private collection and free for the public to visit. There was a terrific balance between ‘cowboy’ and Native American work with many unique touches. We just kept on visiting rooms after rooms; it almost seemed endless! There were so many masterpieces that we couldn’t get our eyes off, and they had almost more than 3500 artworks. The watercolor artwork was so blissful to watch. We kept on discussing each of them and didn’t even realize when almost 2 hours had passed.
Lastly, we came to the section which held letters to and from Mr Eddie Basha from artists. Most of the letters were illustrated by the artists and trusted me; it was a treat to the eyes. A trip to this beautiful art gallery was totally worth it. Along with a taste of their interest in Western Art, you also get a nice sense of the importance of the Basha family to the support of the development of the area. We revered the skill and devotion of all the artists and the feelings they had put into their works. It was nearly lunchtime, and we decided to visit a nearby café. We left the gallery, hand-in-hand, still arguing about the woven items!
Check this place out for another exciting location in Chandler, AZ called Chandler Center for the Arts.