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Art collection of Eddie Basha Jr. bestowed to Heard Museum and Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West

An overview of the Heard Museum in Phoenix. (File Photos/DigitalFreePress)
The Eddie Basha Collection to be enjoyed by all of Phoenix metropolitan
Staff Reports | Digital Free Press

The Basha family has announced the gift of The Eddie Basha Collection of American Indian and Western American fine art.

The collection of art, which includes over 1,000 works, will now be on display at the Heard Museum and Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West.

The gift comprises three centuries including rare and important examples of paintings, sculpture, jewelry, pottery, katsina and basketry from the Akimel O’odham, Tohono O’odham, Yavapai, Apache, Hopi, Navajo tribes, members of the Cowboy Artists of America and many other artists.

The two prominent Valley institutions will each receive a portion of the extensive collection, one of the largest, privately-owned art collections of its kind, and will continue to work with the Basha family to preserve and honor Eddie’s legacy, museum officials say.

“My family and I are delighted to make this gift to the Heard Museum and Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West. We are confident that these two world-class institutions will be excellent partners in fulfilling Eddie’s wish to continue to share the collection and have it remain in Arizona,” said Nadine Basha in a prepared statement.

“The collection reflects Eddie’s deep, lifelong passion for the American West, its vast lands, storied history, many cultures, and rich traditions. Eddie often said, ‘I am of the American West,’ and that sentiment is richly embedded in this collection,” added Nadine.

The Eddie Basha Collection to be enjoyed by all of Phoenix metropolitan

Edward “Eddie” Najeeb Basha, Jr. was the chairman and CEO of Bashas’ Inc., Arizona’s only family-owned grocery store company. After taking over Bashas’ when his father died, he and his fellow Bashas’ members expanded the small company to a chain of 160 stores.

Additionally, Mr. Basha served on numerous boards, including the Arizona Board of Education and the Board of Regents; he was a champion for education in all its forms. His commitment to property-homes was widely known.

In 1971, under the encouragement and guidance of his aunt Zelma Basha, Eddie began collecting art. And since he grew up captivated by the American West, it was only natural that he gravitated toward the art genres of that which he knew.

“The Heard Museum is deeply grateful to the Basha family for their extraordinary gift, which enhances our collection and allows us to tell the story of a towering Arizona figure, Eddie Basha,” said David M. Roche, Dickey Family director and Heard Museum CEO.

“Eddie forged special relationships with Indigenous artists and communities and collected works of art created by them. Every work in the collection tells a story of its source community and illuminates the important contributions that American Indian artists have played, and continue to play, in the arts and culture of Arizona. We look forward to sharing these works of Indigenous creation from the Basha Collection with visitors to the Heard Museum, in perpetuity, and hope that the Arizona community will share in the pride we feel as stewards of these precious works of art.”

Todd Bankofier, Western Spirit Museum of the West’s CEO, echoed a similar sentiment.

“At Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, we believe in Eddie Basha Jr.’s vision that ‘art is meant to be shared’ and we are honored to be a custodian of that vision by exhibiting his collection as well as his legacy in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale,” he said.

“Eddie’s collection was founded upon advice from his Aunt Zelma, ‘collect what you love.’ Thus, his first acquisition, a miniature Don Polland bronze of a cowboy reminded him of his love for the West; it remains in the collection today.

Eddie was passionate about people and knowledge; it was embedded in his nature. He shared his knowledge and his collection with the world. And, at Western Spirit, we intend to emulate his commitment and passion for sharing the arts. The donated portions of the Eddie Basha Collection to Western Spirit will be exhibited in a new addition funded by the largest single donation to a museum in Arizona by Louis Sands IV and in partnership with the City of Scottsdale.”

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