Eric Edward Esper, ‘The Great Cyclone of St. Louis’, 2015, Gallery Victor Armendariz

The Great Cyclone of St. Louis
On Wednesday, May 27, 1896, shortly after 5 p.m., there occurred a major outbreak of tornadoes across the central and eastern U.S., lasting two days. A funnel cloud destroyed a path one mile-wide and ten miles long through America’s 4th largest city. In 20 minutes, “the Cyclone” killed an estimated 255 people, left thousands homeless, and caused over 10 million dollars-worth of damage across St. Louis and East St. Louis. To this day, it remains the deadliest incident in the city’s history.

Eric Edward Esper

After obtaining my BFA in Illustration from Northern Michigan University in 1996 I relocated to Chicago to pursue my artistic endeavors. Here, I began exclusively oil painting and have assembled a body of paintings chronicling scenes of Chicago done primarily in plein air.

Capturing parts of the city’s landscape during its cultural evolution had been my way of conveying history as a painter. My fascination with landscapes and history has led me to create oil paintings of scenes that have affected us in dramatic ways. Recently I have begun painting aerial views of locations that have interesting historical significance, encapsulating true stories that are hard to imagine and harder to forget. My latest paintings capture these places and depict them with historically accurate attention to detail. Using various sources I recreate these scenes with as many photographs of every angle of the incident and research the stories, submersing myself in the event. My newest body of paintings depicts events with a more historically tragic significance, depicting scenes of the darkest hours in America’s Midwest history, where the landscape became the backdrop for tragedy and calamity. These events that irrevocably altered so many lives are important to remember, not only for the people lost and how it affected our culture, but also to remind us that disaster can occur at any time, anywhere.

About Eric Edward Esper