by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The rough sketch of the mural was done by Nolene Triska and features Joe Cotter as the lone figure in honor of his recent death.

Latest one will honor Joe Cotter and mushroom pickers

While at an Artback Artists meeting last year, local artist Nolene Triska spoke up with a new idea for the group’s next mural — a mushroom mural.

“We started the Festival of the Fungus last year, and at the time we were showing the mushrooms,” Triska recalls. “They all looked at me and said, 'OK, you’re going to be lead artist!' ”

For Triska, the mushroom fascination took a long time to develop.

Growing up in Deadwood, Ore., Triska remembers finding a number of mushrooms on her farm, but she had never really been mushrooming. A few years back, however, a couple of friends invited Triska on her first trip, and she was SUBMITTED PHOTO - Here Triska (on the ladder) is working on Estacadas bicentennial mural on the side of the Les Schwab building.

“You can find so many around here, and they are so delicious and wonderful,” she said. “You look for certain kinds of mushrooms, and porcinis are considered one of the premier mushrooms, and while I had never even seen one before, I found one in my yard.

“I was completely hooked.”

Since then, Triska has learned as much as she can about mushrooms, inspiring her to help bring the Festival of the Fungus to town last October.

With inspiration firmly implanted, Triska went to work on a piece that is now called “The Mushroom Forager,” which will go on the side of the building directly across from Thriftway.

“We used to call it a mural in a weekend, but it does take longer than that,” she said. “We’ll go ahead of time and grid it up with a charcoal scale drawing on the wall before painting as much as we can that weekend. Then over the next couple of days, I’ll go back and finish it up.”

Once completed, the mural will also feature a plaque identifying everyone who donated to the project.

Among the mushrooms across the wall, Triska has plans for one human figure in the piece. With the recent death of mural activist Joe Cotter, Triska has decided to paint that figure in Cotter’s likeness.

“One of the things I’m most happy about is the one figure will be Joe Cotter, so it honors him,” she said.

Triska has been a part of four or five of the murals around town; this will be the 18th. This is her first time as lead artist.

The mural painting is the centerpiece of the Summer Celebration, which takes place every year. This year the event will take place July 27-29.

For more information on the murals and how you can donate, visit

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