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Cesar Nogueira’s Gemstone Carving Are Something to Crow About

This is one of an occasional series of blog posts dedicated to our “Rosarians,” artists who have become familiar faces over the years to patrons who attend Rose Squared Art Shows.

Cesar Nogueira’s gemstone carvings for his business, Crystal Feathers, showcase the intricacies of feathered wildlife.

The Brazilian never envisioned working as a professional artist and insists, “I had no artistic talent.”

Thankfully, he was skilled in industrial diamond tools given his professional background. His Uncle Dalton was the artist in the family and needed help implementing those tools to improve efficiency on his own gemstone carvings. The collaboration between the pair awakened something inside of Cesar, who longed to carve like his uncle.

Success wasn’t automatic. Cesar struggled with proportions in trying to copy his uncle’s style. His uncle was blunt in assessing his protégé’s early attempts. “I don’t think you’re going to be able to do this,” he said.

But Cesar was determined to continue, so his uncle urged him to find his own subject and build a connection with it. It didn’t take Cesar long to return with an inspiration.

“I’ve always loved birds,” he said. “I think it was the flying thing that caught my eye when still a kid and then it became an everlasting love. There’s such a variety that I’ll never have to do any other subject.”

His first completed piece was a small parrot, a carving that still sits on his living room shelf in Ocala, Florida. It’s a piece that keeps him grounded and humble. Next to it is another parrot completed some 18 years later that shows off his progression.

Finished works vary in their level of complexity; sometimes Cesar will add a bird feasting on a fish. An owl with its wings down, for instance, is a relatively simple project. Contrast that with a hummingbird, its delicate bill and wings spread out for flight, which takes much longer.

“There’s about twice as much carving to do with any particular bird with its wings out,” he said. “You have to cover with detail both sides of each wing, and the feather work that goes into that is the most time-consuming part.”

Today Cesar shows his work from the Midwest to the East Coast and is a regular at Rose Squared Art Shows, where it’s no stretch to say regulars flock to his booth. The marvelous colors he achieves come from the gemstones used — no paint or dye is part of his process.

He inlays several different kinds of natural stones — quartz, amethyst, jasper and lapis, among others, until he is satisfied with the combination. No molds are used for the shapes, so each piece is an exclusive original.

Cesar couldn’t make a living selling his art in his native country, so he relocated to Florida, saving enough for his wife and daughter to eventually join him. Today, over 30 years later, in addition to shows in the South, he travels up the East Coast for stops, then sets up shop for the summer in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He enjoys the Rose Squared shows in northern New Jersey in the fall and is grateful for the lasting friendships he’s made with patrons there. Janet and Howard Rose, who founded Rose Squared Art Shows, are among the first people he met when he started selling at shows in the North.

“I love the Brookdale Park and Anderson Park shows,” he said. “The people from those neighborhoods are genuinely kind and appreciative; I’ve built a good customer base there. It’s also a nice area to be, so I feel at home there. As importantly, the reason I even started doing their shows is that I heard from my colleagues (and I can now attest) Howard and Janet Rose are very considerate, dependable people. They really care for the artists and truly do their best for us. I know I can trust them and there’s nothing better than that.”

Rose Squared Art Shows are held four times annually. The 2022 dates are Verona Park (May 21-22), Spring Brookdale Park (June 18-19), Anderson Park (Sept. 17-18) and Fall Brookdale Park (Oct. 15-16).