Nov 16 2016

As you may well know, the newly opened Art House at Old St. Francis School celebrates the work of the artists who have lent their talents to our properties, making them come alive with color and history.

Here is another of the original murals and accompanying artist's statement, this one from longtime McMenamins collaborator Kolieha Bush.


"In Good Company"
By Kolieha Bush

I feel fortunate to call the people portrayed in this painting my friends as well as my co-workers. Prominently featured are fellow artists Olivia Behm, Jenny Joyce, Myrna Yoder and Lyle Hehn, with whom I've worked extensively throughout the years.

From painting exterior building borders in dry, dusty heat, to the more confined business of painting bathroom borders and faces on pipe elbows, working as a McMenamins artist offers a variety of unusual working conditions and challenges. One of our most memorable projects was painting a 40-foot canvas from a three-story scaffold at McMenamins Back Stage Bar in Portland. It felt like we were up on the rigging of a ship, with the canvas rippling in the wind every time one of us moved. Painting headboards in the old jail at McMenamins Edgefield in Troutdale has also been a rewarding experience, as it allows a number of us to work together in the same space, share ideas and get feedback from each other.

My husband Joe Cotter, who passed away in 2012, was another artist with a long relationship with McMenamins. Though Joe is not portrayed directly, the central image in this painting is of his bronze sculpture of Jerry Garcia, located at Edgefield. As my partner, Joe had a very profound impact on my life, and his passion, inspiration and creativity were evident to all who met him. Our son, Noah Cotter, has worked as an artist for McMenamins as well; the border along the bottom of the painting was inspired by one of his designs.

I've also included stylistic elements from the art of my friends and coworkers, Reeva Wortel and Eona Skelton, and drew inspiration from the creative metalwork of Jeff "The Plumber."

I have met some really fine people doing this work and am continually meeting new ones. I'm grateful to say I am "in good company!"

About the Artist
I am an artist based in Eagle Creek, Oregon. I have been producing art professionally for more than 30 years. There are several different mediums that I work with - papier maché, paint, oil clay, bronze, pen and pencil. My artwork ranges from quiet and contemplative pieces, to work portraying the more exuberant and joyful side of life. I like to paint people, plants, birds . . . I like music and movement. I keep working until the piece feels "true" to me.

I have displayed my artwork at the Oregon Country Fair since 1979. The free, creative spirit of the fair has had a definite influence on me and what I do as an artist. Originally I sold papier maché in the form of Peculiar Piñatas, and gradually moved toward more sculptural pieces, many incorporating natural objects such as sticks, vines and moss.
My figurative bronze works developed after I made a life-sized papier maché sculpture of a woman in 1985. My friend, the sculptor Nano Lopez, worked at an art foundry. He encouraged me to refine the piece and to have her cast in bronze. I learned all about the lost wax bronze casting process and in 1986 The Young Woman was my first bronze sculpture cast at a foundry in Walla Walla, Washington.

Beginning in 1980 my partner Joe Cotter and I shared a studio/gallery space called the Chameleons Garden in Estacada, Oregon. Joe painted, made silk-screened prints and cards and worked with ceramics. I painted, made various papier maché creations and sculpted. We also held years of weekly life-drawing sessions. My brother Peter Bush, owner of Rosebush Marimbas, joined us in 1986, making fine hand-crafted marimbas. The Chameleons Garden was a great work place and the site of many art gatherings in the 1980s and early '90s.

In 1988 I completed Struggle and Hope, my first mural, sponsored by the Portland Central American Solidarity Committee and designed by Bill Garnett. I am a founding member of the Artback Artists Cooperative in Estacada. Organized in 1993, we have painted a large-scale, outdoor mural in our small, rural community each year since 1994. I have been the lead artist on four of them: Celebration ?98, Tree of Life 2003 (in collaboration with Reeva Wortel and Emily Hyde), Bird Party 2007 and most recently on the renovation of Joe Cotter's the Cycle of Wood mural. I also have murals in the National College of Natural Medicine, the Molalla Public Library and Eagle Creek Elementary school.

My artwork has been in the Spiral Gallery, a cooperative in downtown Estacada, since its inception in 2003. The Gallery provides a much-needed and much-appreciated gathering space for artists and their supporters.

Finally, since 1997, I've had the good fortune of working for McMenamins as one of the artists painting in their historic hotels and pubs. I am grateful to Mike McMenamin for being so supportive of the arts. I enjoy the opportunity to work with the other artists, who have become friends as well. As a group, we have had three shows together in the Portland area.

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