What's New

What’s New: Teaching, documentaries and community activism for Nathan Florence

Nathan Florence Ballet West

Nathan Florence loved to draw as a kid in Denver and Salt Lake City, but after dreaming of being a rock star (his father had a stash of Buddy Holly and Beatles records), a reconstructive surgeon (thanks to PBS), and an architect, he wound up studying engineering (thinking to be an industrial designer), then took a pre-med track (with art classes on the side) at the prestigious Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.

“With some sage advice and a great professor/mentor I dropped the pre-med studies, well into my study of organic chemistry and physics, and switched to studying art full time. Somehow in spite of finding my inspiration in music, films and pictures, being an artist didn’t seem like it was a valid career choice. It seemed to run into conflict with some sort of puritan work ethic I had in my head. I think it feels too much like playing to be legitimate work, probably another reason I didn’t go with rock star either,” he says.

Florence now includes community activism and education in his definition of what it means to be an artist: “My current projects include painting commissions, directing a documentary and being an artist in residence at a charter school that has an art and project learning emphasis.” 

The photo, taken by his wife, shows Florence preparing to install his recent painting “In A Common Act of Magic: Concerto Barocco” in the lobby of Ballet West’s offices. “The painting was recently presented to Ballet West in collaboration with Modern West Fine Art and was really fun to work on,” he says. “The dancers in the painting, students at the Ballet West Academy, are shown in rehearsal outfits, rather than performance costumes to reflect the learning and training of the Academy in preparation, not only for specific ballet performances, but for their future.”

Florence lives in the 9th and 9th area “with my wife/muse, Marian, and our two ridiculously amazing kids.”

Last year he had a successful show at Modern West Fine Art, which represents him, with another coming up this June. “I continue to work on commissions and this year hope to finish the documentary film I’m working on about Utah artists Trevor Southey, Dennis Smith, Gary Ernest Smith and Neil Hadlock.”

Florence nomad


A graduate of the University of Utah, Ann Poore is a freelance writer and editor who spent most of her career at The Salt Lake Tribune. She also worked for Salt Lake City Weekly and has written for such publications as Utah Business Magazine and Salt Lake Magazine. She is a contributing editor to 15 Bytes.

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2 replies »

  1. What is not mentioned in this article is that Nathan is supportive to all types of artists in the community. He is always willing to give encouraging advice, mentoring, and friendship to people throughout the art community – be they his students or simply a stranger with a shared interest. I am in awe of how much talent, humor, and generosity Nathan displays on a daily basis. It is a pleasure to work with him and call him my friend. Also, I am very fond of his muse and wonderful children as well!

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