Famed street artist and graphic designer Shepard Fairey has unveiled a 15-story mural featuring the stoic image of Johnny Cash. Painted on the side of the Residence Inn by Marriott in downtown Sacramento, it is Fairey’s largest on display in the state of California. The image, interpreted from photographer Jim Marshall’s 1968 photo of Cash at the site of his famed performance at Folsom Prison ,commemorates the 50th anniversary of the release of that landmark live album, which was recorded during two shows Cash played there. The mural sets Cash’s gaze toward the state prison, located some 20 miles from Sacramento.
The mural marks the first-ever collaboration between Fairey and the estate of photographer Jim Marshall, whose camera captured an untold number of priceless moments both onstage and backstage throughout the Sixties and Seventies, including Jimi Hendrix burning his guitar at the Monterey Pop Festival and a series of images documenting the Summer of Love and the rise of hippie culture in San Francisco in the late Sixties. His numerous photos of Cash include the Man in Black’s prison performances as well as intimate backstage and at-home images of Cash with his wife June Carter and young son John Carter Cash. Marshall also famously captured the memorable moment at San Quentin in 1969 when Cash raised his middle finger after Marshall requested a special photo for the warden.
The artwork was unveiled as part of Sacramento’s Wide Open Walls mural festival earlier this month and is one in a series of images in collaboration with Marshall as part of the American Civics series, which debuted in San Francisco in 2016. The series spotlights social issues, income equality, gun control, the rights of voters and workers, and — with Fairey’s Cash image — prison reform.
Fairey’s now-iconic image of candidate Barack Obama was featured on the “Hope” posters he created for Obama’s successful bid for president in 2008. Limited edition signed serigraphs of the images are available through the San Francisco Art Exchange.
Jim Marshall died in 2010. In 2014, he received Grammy recognition with the Recording Academy’s Trustees award.