Johnny Cash Trail Art Experience Master Plan Approved

The Folsom City Council unanimously approved a master plan for the Johnny Cash Trail Art Experience, featuring public art that honors one of the world’s most famous country musicians and his influence on the City of Folsom.

The public art project on the City of Folsom’s Johnny Cash Trail will include eight pieces of artwork and a three-acre park honoring the ‘Man in Black.’  Public art displays include:

·         “Cash’s Pick”  featuring two 7-foot tall bronze monument guitar picks that will create beginning and end points for the trail

·          “Folsom Prison Blues”  made from laser cut, steel poles depicting a silhouette of Cash playing the guitar

·         “Ring of Fire”  made of illuminated stainless steel guitar picks

·         “Greystone Chapel,” featuring  repurposed Folsom Prison granite blocks with bronze castings of  excerpts of letters sent to Johnny Cash by inmates that attended the 1968 concerts

·         “Hello, I am Johnny Cash, ” a slightly larger-than-life-size bronze sculpture inspired by the famous photo of Cash during the 1968 Folsom Prison concert

·         “Rusty Cage,” 17-foot high steel guitar necks made of heavy gauge Corten steel, set in the ground at the scale of a prison cell

·         “Man in Black,” a three-dimensional 40-foot landmark sculpture placed atop a 10-foot granite base that will be displayed in the Johnny Cash Legacy Park.

The three-acre Johnny Cash Legacy Park will be located at the corner of East Natoma Street and Folsom Lake Crossing.  The park will incorporate interpretive and educational elements about Johnny Cash, his band the Tennessee Three, and the “At Folsom Prison” album.  It will also include a small amphitheater, educational spaces, traditional park amenities, and connection to the Johnny Cash Trail and Bike/Pedestrian Overcrossing.

The Johnny Cash Trail Art Experience will incorporate audio art components and app technology, allowing for geosynchronous connection with the artwork, including music, interpretive information, maps, and other multimedia experiences.

“The Johnny Cash Trail Art Experience will be a world-class public art installation that celebrates Cash's musical career and ties to Folsom’s rich history,” said Mayor Andy Morin.  “Adding an art experience to this segment of trail reflects the City’s desire to showcase art in public places and add to a growing collection of public art that currently numbers more than 60 artworks.”

Concepts for the public art component were vetted in collaboration with Cindy Cash, one of Johnny Cash’s five children, and a 12-member art selection panel comprised of members of the Arts and Cultural Commission, Parks and Recreation Commission, Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Bureau, the project engineer for the Johnny Cash Trail, the Folsom Prison Museum, the Friends of the Folsom Parkways, and the Parks and Recreation DepartmentAfter an extensive competitive selection process, Romo Studios of Sacramento and the Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt-Amrany of Highwood, Illinois have been selected as the project artist teams, both in collaboration with the RRM Design Group of San Luis Obispo. 

Last October, the City of Folsom opened Phase I of the 1.25-mile segment Johnny Cash Trail and the Bike/Pedestrian bridge at the intersection of Folsom Lake Crossing Road and East Natoma Street. The $3.8 million overcrossing, which spans busy Folsom Lake Crossing Road, is designed to echo the look of Folsom Prison’s East Gate guard tower, an iconic feature of Folsom history and location of a famous Cash photo taken before the concert.

The entire Johnny Cash Trail is expected to be completed by 2017 when the remaining 1.25-mile Phase II segment is finished. Phase II will begin at Cimmaron Circle and includes an undercrossing at Prison Road. The trail will continue behind the City Hall complex, where a 190-foot-long wood bridge will provide dramatic views of the American River and Lake Natoma. The trail provides access to Folsom's Historic District and the extensive American River Parkway trail.

Cash made the prison famous with the hit, “Folsom Prison Blues,” which he performed at Folsom State Prison in 1968.  A passionate advocate for prisoners’ rights, Cash gave numerous performances at prisons around the country.  His two 1968 performances at Folsom State Prison were among his most successful, forever linking the singer to Folsom.  Contrary to popular legend, Cash did not serve time in Folsom Prison, nor any other prison.

"His connection and our family's connection will go on in a most beautiful way with the City of Folsom," said Rosanne Cash in her trail dedication comments, "Now this beauty and this connection to nature that he loved so much are going to be here forever."

The City is seeking corporate and grassroots donations to fund the $8 million project.  The City of Folsom Parks and Recreation Department and Folsom Arts Association have launched a fundraising campaign, and donations may be made through the Folsom Arts Association, a 501c3 non-profit organization at  http://www.folsomcasharttrail.com/.