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United through art

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: NOAH COTTER - The Celtic World Mural, which will be painted in color during this year's Summer Celebration, features influences from across the ancient world.  Cotter hopes the mural will help promote love and connectivity.

Noah Cotter grew up around Estacada’s murals. This year, he’s leading the creation of one.

During the city’s Summer Celebration, July 21-23, a team of Artback Artists and volunteers will paint Cotter’s design for “The Celtic World Mural” at at 367 S.E. Main St.

Cotter’s design features a heart, infinity sign and two people holding up a natural scene with a tree.

The design draws from cultures from all over the ancient world, including celtic and norse influences, and is created in the style of an illuminated manuscript, an art form where ancient manuscripts were decorated with borders, initials and miniature illustrations.

Cotter said he chose the design to reflect on “universal love and the connections between humans and the planet.”

“Today, there’s a lot of fear, divisiveness and frustration in our world with political, race and gender divisions,” he said. “I wanted to make something really universal.”

Cotter grew up around Estacada’s murals. His parents, Kolieha Bush ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: EMILY LINDSTRAND - Noah Cotter, the lead artist for the 2016 Artback mural, stands in front of the scaffolding for the project. and the late Joe Cotter, were also both involved in Artback, the artist cooperative that has painted murals in downtown Estacada since 1992.

“I have really great memories of working with my dad on his murals,” Cotter said.

Joe Cotter was the lead artist on many of Estacada’s murals, including “The Cycle of Wood,” “Tails of the Trail” and “All the World’s A Stage.”

“It’s really great to see my dad’s legacy around town,” Cotter said of the murals that decorate many of Estacada’s walls.

Cotter has also been inspired by his mother’s work. He sees parallels between this year’s mural and several murals around town she designed, including “The Tree of Life Mural,” located on Fourth Avenue.

“I think they speak to more universal themes, as opposed to more specific themes,” he said.

Cotter appreciates being able to consult with his mother on his work.

“(Talking to my mom) is really valuable. It’s great to have another artist to bounce ideas off and talk about work,” he said.

Cotter works as an artist full time. Previously, he was employed as an artist for McMenamins, and he is often commissioned to create album covers.

He praised his parents for nurturing his artistic spirit.

“It was a really cool and stimulating environment to grow up in,” he said.

Cotter said his parents were always supportive of his and his brother’s interests.

“My dad would take whatever we were interested in and educate himself on that, and essentially make himself interested in whatever we were interested in,” he recalled.

Today, Cotter is grateful for the opportunity to lead Artback in creating this year’s mural.

“I feel really fortunate that, at a young age, I get to put a giant piece of my art on a wall, and have people help with that,” he said. “There’s been a lot of community support, and I’m really appreciative of that.”

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