The Ohio State University at Lima

Painter Eric Edward Esper debuts Midwestern Disasters paintings at Ohio State Lima

Chicago-based artist Eric Edward Esper will debut several new works at the opening of his show, Midwestern Disasters, in the Farmer Family Gallery in Reed Hall at The Ohio State University at Lima from 4:30-6:30 p.m., Thur., Oct. 27, 2016.

“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,” Esper writes in his artist statement. “My latest paintings capture these places and depict them with historically accurate attention to detail.”

As the show’s name suggests, much of Esper’s recent works, including those produced for the Farmer Family Gallery show, focus on tragic events that alter both the lives of the people involved and the community around them. The 12 oil paintings focus on large scale disasters that happened in the Midwest, including four Ohio events like the Ohio State Penitentiary Fire of 1930 that killed more than 300 prisoners and the Collinwood School Fire of 1908, one of the deadliest school disasters in US history.

“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,” Esper writes. “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.”

Gallery curator Ed Valentine, professor of Fine Arts, is excited to open the show in the Farmer Family Gallery. “I’m looking forward to this show because Eric did do a large percentage of the work for us,” Valentine said. “He is pretty unique in his subject matter and approach to art making. He does copious amounts of research in order to make sure his facts are correct. Although his works are historically factual, I like that they somehow manage to still have their toes in the waters of surrealism.”

Esper earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration from Northern Michigan University in 1996. After relocating to Chicago to pursue his artistic endeavors, he began working exclusively in oil painting and has assembled a body of paintings chronicling scenes of Chicago and the Midwest done primarily in plein air. Several of his painting hang in the permanent collections of businesses with corporate headquarters in Chicago.

Midwestern Disasters will be in the Farmer Family Gallery through Dec. 9, 2016. The gallery is free and open to the public weekdays from 10:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

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