The Bayless Collection

The Tom and Fran Bayless Collection

One day, back in the late ’50s or early ’60s, my father was on the Navajo Reservation. He had the good luck to run into Tom and Fran Bayless, two lovely young people from Ohio who had discovered the Southwest on vacation in 1952 and kept coming back year after year.

The Bayless’ headquarters on the Navajo Reservation was at the Oljato Trading Post in Monument Valley. They brought their daughters out and spent much of the summer months exploring the region and becoming acquainted with the people, customs, and art of the Native people. My father became good friends with the couple. It was a relationship he treasured until he passed away.

My dad enjoyed sharing the beauty of the country and the people with anyone who was really interested. Tom and Fran were in that group.

About the time my father passed, Tom developed Parkinson’s disease. The Baylesses curtailed their travels, but in the more than 50 years they visited the Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni reservations, they established a network of friends, from old traders like Harry Goulding to cutting-edge artists like Dennis Edaaki from Zuni. Their collection is extensive.

When Tom passed, Fran began the process of cataloging their collection and wrote the story of their adventures. This last year, she asked us to take on the task of finding new collectors for them. When I asked her if she was sure, she replied, “It is the right time.”

The wonderful treasures that Tom and Fran collected are in the following section. Hundreds of beautiful works of art are here, so take your time going through them! And I encourage you to follow Fran’s story of their adventures in the Southwest. It is a great read and one you will enjoy. I think they understood the country and the people that lived there during that time.

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