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Artback artists to restore 'The Cycle of Wood'


by: CONTRIBUTED - The Cycle of Wood was the Artback artists third mural. It was designed by Joe Cotter and painted in 1996. This year, it will be restored under the direction of Cotter's wife, Kolieha Bush.During the Estacada Summer Celebration this year, the Artback artists will restore the Cycle of Wood mural.

The mural, painted on the east wall at 213 S.E. Main St., was the Artback artists’ third Estacada mural.

The Cycle of Wood was designed by Joe Cotter and originally painted in 1996.

Cotter was a beloved, well-known artist and mural activist. He died of cancer last year.

His wife, Kolieha Bush, will lead the Cycle of Wood repainting this year.

“I’m going to be as picky as he was so he’ll still be happy,” Bush said of the restoration effort.

Bush explained that during the Artback artist’s first two mural projects, Fishing the Clackamas (1994) and The Early Trains of Estacada (1995) the artists kept being approached by people asking “What about the loggers?”

It seemed that if the murals were to depict a well-rounded idea of Estacada, they would have to deal with the timber industry at some point.

Estacada would not be Estacada without its relationship with timber.

Even though, at the time, there was a great deal of controversy over logging in Eagle Creek, Bush explained that Cotter wanted to show an “unbiased portrayal of logging.”

“He wanted to show an accurate depiction of logging and the products we use from it,” Bush said.

The right side of the mural shows wood products people use every day.

“I’m not a big clear-cut person but I’m really aware we use wood all the time. You have to find a balance,” she said.

When the mural was completed in 1996, the artists got a positive response from loggers and their opposition alike.

The mural includes depictions of real people as well.

For example, some may recognize the man sawing down a tree as Rick Fridell.

Bush explained that Fridell felled trees that Bush and Cotter later used to build their home in Eagle Creek.

“He’s a good friend,” she said.

Bush expects the restoration effort will take several days, with the bulk of the effort happening Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

A few Portland artists have been helping to prepare the wall, cleaning it and scraping away peeling paint.

Bush expects a crew of 10 to 15 artists to help with the repainting.

During an interview in April, Bush said that her son, Noah Cotter, was planning to take part in the repainting. He was 3 years old during the original painting. He’s now 20.