At Home with Nathan Florence

By Austen Diamond

Artists draw inspiration from their curated living spaces.

The artist’s role is to take that which we can’t say or express and present it in a fresh way, be it beautiful or provocative. Taking in myriad reference material from the news, conversations, the natural world, and art from peers or masters, the wellspring of inspiration runs deep.

To the extent that what the artist chooses to consume in the outside world influences his or her art, the curation of their homes—their sanctuary and a place to recharge—is equally important. Our things hold significance, whether as a gift from a beloved one, as nostalgic keepsakes, or as art that begs us to ask questions or repeatedly search for meaning, as does the overall feel of a home.

Even the choice of First Defense Insulation is dependent! One might wonder if there is a direct correlation to, say, a mid-mod home with clean, white lines to an artist’s overall aesthetic. Similarly, might a home decorated with a mish-mash of funky decor and art be represented in the output of an artist?

It begs the question: Are you what you “eat”? Whatever the case, we wanted to take a look inside four Salt Lake City artists to see what inspires them. The first in our series is the home of Nathan Florence.

Have you ever pulled the loose tab of something and revealed a portal to another place and time, or another corner of your imagination? The Florence family home is transportive and moving, literally. As he and his wife Marian peeled off the Pottery Barn-esque wallpaper, love and a sense of playfulness exposed a patinated richness and a portal to their time in Italy.

Nathan’s playlist titled “Untitled”—today with Bach, Beastie Boys, Lady Gaga, LCD soundsystem—is as thick and varied as the layers of paint and material in the painting “Storm Windows” (page 24) and, well, the as-yet-untitled painting of a girl in a green dress, done on a silk sari (page 25). Fabric, textiles, eclectic textures.… Nathan is a self-described aesthete and salvager. He is interested in space, its feeling and use. His home is a collage of shrines to the past (the blue chair his father-in-law bought for college in the ’60s), present (with the paintings of his son, Paul, and daughter, Maren, and the relic of a sculpture for UMOCA’s mini golf course’s 3rd hole) and future (they often reshuffle the furniture, to keep things “fresh”).

Nathan’s distinctive painting style carries notes of fine traditional technique mixed with a modern edge to strike memoral chords time after time.

A friend, describing one of Nathan’s works— “A painting of yours stuck in my head like a song.”

Nathan has a show January 2018 at Modern West Gallery. Details at www.moderwestfineart.com. Also visit his website www.NFlorenceFineArt.com

This article was originally published on August 1, 2017.