Carefree Welcomes Back Sand Sculpting – Adds Stone Exhibit

Rock balancing by Tim Anderson

Rock balancing by Tim Anderson

The Town of Carefree welcomes world renowned artist and sculptor, Ray Villafane, back to create sand art like no other within the Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion, Carefree Desert Gardens starting March 4. Villafane ( for the first time has invited professional stone balancer Tim Anderson (, a Pennsylvania native, to join him the weekend of March 17-19 to transform the Gardens into an artistic stone playground. Visitors can watch demonstrations, participate and ask questions as the artists defy the laws of physics without the use of any adhesives other than gravity and stones provided by Mother Nature to create unusual artistic formations in the Desert Gardens pools and around the scenic landscape. The Thunderbird Artists ( will also be present in the downtown area for their Carefree Fine Art and Wine event that weekend (see page 48), $3 entrance fee for sand, stone and all the fine art you can consume.

Ray Villafane and Elephant Chessie Trunkston

Ray Villafane and Elephant “Chessie Trunkston”

The first life-size signature sculptor created by Villafane and Sue Beatrice in the Carefree Desert Gardens was completed in May of 2016 titled, “Elephant playing chess with a field mouse,” and consisting of 24 tons of sand sourced from the Salt River. The exhibit garnered world attention by the media who had never seen sand sculpting taken to that level. The silt’s fine texture, married with a tamping process and the right amount of water allows for Villafane to achieve greater detail with his sculpting. When finished, he sprayed a solution of water and glue on the entire sculpture to protect it from the elements allowing it to last upwards of six months for thousands of visitors to enjoy.

Villafane has been on the global scene for 10 years carving sand and says, “I love Carefree and am glad to be back again for a second year within the beautiful Desert Gardens. It’s a playground and inspiration and appreciate the Town allowing me to be a part of it.”

The exhibit will be on display through August. Admission is free and open to the public every day of the week, with the exception of March 17-19, when the Thunderbird artists will join Villafane, Anderson and 150 fine artists at the Carefree Fine Art and Wine event, when there is a $3 entrance fee. Carefree residents are free.

For more information, call 480.488.3686 or visit

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