“It’s A Cash Only Show, Kid!” – A John Ford Clymer Exhibit from the Eddie Basha Collection

John Ford Clymer’s history-laden canvases plunged headlong onto Eddie Basha’s purview when he thumbed through early Cowboy Artists of America (CAA) Show & Sale catalogs on his first of many visits to Joe Beeler’s studio in 1972. Impressed by the man whose studio he was in and the bronzes he just acquired, excited by the one who’s oil painting pictured in a catalog captivated him and intrigued by this group of western artists who called themselves CA’s, Eddie leapt from a casual admirer to an ardent fan, supporter, and collector.

A short while later upon Eddie’s first foray into the Scottsdale gallery scene, he happened upon O’Brien’s Art Emporium. Therein he was taken aback by a painting of a buffalo being skinned. The Stanford history major alumnus was allured by the buffalo and what it represented, the essence of American Indian civilization and culture. To his amazement and elation, the artist was none other than John Ford Clymer. The sold sign couldn’t be hung fast enough as far as Eddie was concerned; however, the $9,000 price tag was another matter. The quick thinker offered a one-fourth down payment and one-fourth payments every three months until it was paid in full. The gallerist, Bill O’Brien, said that he would have to call Clymer and obtain his permission. 

Eddie may have lacked in the patience department, but he certainly made up for it with enthusiasm. The following day, he didn’t leave his office as he waited on pins and needles for the phone call that never came from the gallery. The antsy enthusiast placed his own call the following day and was told to come on in. Within 30 minutes he handed in his first installment check to O’Brien and was now the proud owner of “After the Hunt”. 

Later that same year, O’Brien’s hosted a show for John Ford Clymer, Charlie Dye and Brownell McGrew; the two latter also CA’s. Prior to the sale, Eddie and Anne and Henry Topf were permitted to view the paintings. All parties were interested in making purchases. The ambitious Basha convinced his brothers-in-law to go to the gallery six hours prior to the start of the show to wait in line for him, ensuring that he and the Topfs would get the paintings they wanted to purchase. When the doors opened Eddie immediately made his purchase intention known for Clymer’s “Winter Trail” and “Night Visitors” for the Topfs. Bill O’Brien came up behind Eddie, laid his hand on his shoulder and said to him “It’s a cash only show, kid!”