Art Of The Earth – Can You Dig It‽

Wayne Helfand at Cave Creek’s Rare Earth Gallery

By Kathryn M. Miller —

Africa, Brazil, China, Madagascar, Peru, Vietnam — these are just a few of the far-flung locales that Wayne Helfand, president of Rare Earth Gallery in Cave Creek, explores to purvey for his gallery. It’s more than just a job for Helfand. It’s a life-long passion.

“I went to my first rock show when I was 19 years old, and I picked up a geode there and I opened it up — it was amazing, and I said, ‘This came out of the earth?’ It just mesmerized and fascinated me…the natural beauty that comes out of this world.”

Helfand spends close to six months of the year traveling and purveying for the gallery, which opened six years ago across the street from its current location on the corner of Schoolhouse Road and Cave Creek Road.

“We were there for five years, and we were outgrowing the locality and our ability to display things, because the inventory kept growing exponentially,” says Helfand. “When I travel, and I find cool stuff, it’s like, ‘oh, I’ll come back,’ but you come back, it’s gone. So, purveying these things, whether I warehouse them or bring them here, 90 percent of the whole business is the acquisition and having an eye to be able to discern what’s beauty, what’s not, what is truly remarkable.”

Helfand’s goal is to show people something they haven’t seen before, and a visit to Rare Earth Gallery is not something that can be experienced in just a few minutes. While visitors can get an idea online ( of the wonders that await them, photos don’t do them justice. Helfand’s art of the earth must be experienced in person, and he gets a kick out of seeing the wonder and amazement his treasures spark in visitors.

The gallery is once again bursting at its seams, and construction is underway on a much larger, more permanent building, across the street on the southeast corner. The new facility will boast a total of 8,900 square feet versus the current 5,000 square feet, and 6,000 square feet will be designated as showroom space.

“It’s probably going to be the largest showroom of its kind featuring art of the earth — larger than anywhere else I’ve seen…and I travel a lot.”

Helfand says that the plan is to move in during the first two weeks of April 2018, and before that they will be doing a slow migration of some of the surrounding sculptures and heavy items on the outside grounds.

“Building this new building is as close to a Herculean task that I’ve experienced in life so far. It’s going to be really a phenomenal facility that’s going to be a world-class destination. I hope that it contributes to the town, not only in commerce, but in the pride of having something that’s one of the most unique galleries on the planet.”

Helfand describes his collection as “gifts of the earth,” — everything is unique; nothing is mass-produced or cookie-cutter, and it’s a must-see destination.

“There are two things you need to do when you come to Arizona to visit: you’ve got to see the Grand Canyon, and you have got to come to Rare Earth Gallery.” | CST

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