Artist Spotlight: Salt Lake City
Plan D, The Life and Art of Nathan Florence
by Shawn Rossiter
is a man open to options. Florence, whose work was on display at David Ericson Fine Art during the month of December, is a Utah native who studied art in Philadelphia and spent time traveling in Europe before returning to his home state to pursue his career in art. He lives in the Ninth and Ninth area of Salt Lake with his wife and two children and teaches art at the Waterford School in Sandy. He is a dedicated artist who has worked hard and steady at his craft, pursuing his individual vision, a personal style of metaphorical painting; but he has always been open to the possibilities of chance, to multiple interpretations in his work and to accepting Plan B, C or even D in his life.
Florence grew up in the Cottonwood Area of Salt Lake, and though he always enjoyed art, he never considered the visual arts an option as a career. Going to High School, the only artists he knew were his teachers, who did not have a career outside of the school. So, when he applied to colleges, he thought of going into engineering or premed. Florence chose to attend Swarthmore College
, a prestigious liberal arts college in Philadelphia, and it was there that Florence’s eyes were opened and he realized he could pursue art as a serious career.
Once he left Utah, he never thought he would return. “I never thought of coming back to Utah,” he says. “I guess it’s pretty common but I thought growing up here that if you’re really successful you go somewhere else, you do something else.” In Philadelphia, Florence met his wife, Marian, a California native and Harvard graduate, who was working as a development agent for a Middle Eastern country.
After graduation, Florence and his wife stayed in Philadelphia debating what to do next. Florence met Robert Storr, a Swarthmore alumnus and then senior curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and solicited his advice on his career. “Get the hell out of Philadelphia,” Storr told him. “Go to LA, New York, Chicago, or San Francisco.” “So,” Florence recounts with a smile, “you know I took that advice and moved to Salt Lake City.”
Exhibition Review: Ephraim
Sexual Dimorphism & the Sacred Profane
Casey Jex Smith and Sara Osebold at C.U.A.C.
by Geoff Wichert
If it has become a cliché that art usurps the place in modern life once held by religion, it’s an ironic cliché, for of all the subjects and sources of our art, religion is surely one of the least respected. In fact, in its purest sense it is barely tolerated. Giacomo Manzu, twentieth century heir to the likes of Donatello and Michelangelo, sculpted cardinals and popes, but was always careful to represent the all-too-human vessel, while leaving the precise spiritual content to the viewer’s imagination. More recently, Maurizio Catalan showed Pope John Paul II struck down by divine judgment in the form of a meteorite. Even the Mark Rothko Chapel, despite its giveaway name, attempts no specific theological presentation. All the more unusual, then, that Casey Jex Smith, who has begun to compile enviable notice over the last three years, not only speaks longingly of renewing the spiritual language of art, but is unambiguous in identifying the religious sources of his sense of awe and wonder.
Exhibition Reviews: Salt Lake
This is the Place . . . for more than just landscapes
by Chris Brooks, Kent Rigby & Shawn Rossiter
In the art world, Utah has a reputation as a state of superb landscape painters. Some people are afraid that is the only reputation it has. Though the number of professional and amateur artists working with the landscape may outnumber any other genre, a quick look at local Salt Lake galleries and art centers this month will be enough to convince an astute viewer that Utah is the place for more than just landscapes.
The first place you’ll want to look to get a sense of the variety of artwork produced and exhibited in Utah is the 2nd annual UNK
Board Show. 120 international, national and local artists submitted 150 customized skateboard decks for this annual exhibit. Last year’s show had about 60 boards by approximately 20 artists. This show is definitely bigger and badder, and in the coming years will continue to increase in size and scope, according to UNK Gallery director Jeremy Herridge. Herridge came up with the idea for this show after seeing a board show online. “We like object driven shows, it gives artists a chance to break out and do something they wouldn’t normally do.” With the help of the internet, Myspace website, and the Blue Bottle Gallery
in Seattle, Herridge was able to pull together a massively diverse show balanced by local, national and international artists.
Herridge’s exhibit favorites run the gamut of styles and artists represented in the show: from local artist and gallery owner Kenny Riches
, whose piece, “Pity Party,” |1|
is an acrylic and graphics symbolic work, to Polish-born German artist, Wlodek Stopa, who does large-scale public art and contributed “Dynamique Impossible X” for the show. |0| Todd Lawson
, from Canada, submitted two pieces with rather pointed political and social commentary.|2| Mike Maas
, from Tempe, Arizona, is another artist with two submissions, “Our Lady of Transylvania” and “Bad Karma,” both of which are somewhat cartoonish, if not slightly macabre.|3|
With a show featuring this many artists in Utah there had to be a landscape or two. Laura Boardman
, of Salt Lake City, painted “Low Clouds over Torrey.”|4|
“Here’s an example of an artist stepping out of their usual bounds,” says Herridge. “Laura normally paints very controlled and tight oils on canvas.” But landscapes were definitely in the minority at the Board Show.