Arts & Theater

Downtown Sacramento’s Johnny Cash mural voted 2018’s best music-inspired mural

The 15-story Johnny Cash mural on L Street’s Residence Inn by Marriott downtown has been voted in as 2018’s best music-themed mural by Music on Walls.

Music on Walls was founded in 2014 and promotes international visual art inspired by music and musicians, according to its website.

Shepard Fairey, founder of the OBEY clothing line and the artist behind Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign poster, created the Sacramento mural in August 2018 during the Wide Open Walls festival, in part to bring attention to prison reform.

Cash, who held many concerts at correctional facilities, testified to Congress in 1972, advocating for change in the American prison system.

“I have seen and heard of things at some of the concerts that would chill the blood of the average citizen,” Cash told the Subcommittee on National Penitentiaries. “But I think possibly the blood of the average citizen needs to be chilled … People have got to care in order for prison reform to come about.”

Fairey told Music on Walls that he is a longtime fan of Cash, but he only began to engage with his social commentary after he created a poster for the 2005 biopic “Walk the Line.”

Creation of the mural coincided with the 50th anniversary of Cash’s 1968 album “At Folsom Prison,” which was recorded live inside the prison as he performed for inmates and included his well-known “Folsom Prison Blues.”

“I’ve become more and more concerned with criminal justice issues, and I saw the 50th anniversary of the release of (the album) as a perfect opportunity to simultaneously celebrate a musical hero and bring attention to incarceration reform,” Fairey told Music on Walls.

The mural is Fairey’s largest in California, and is based on a photograph taken by Jim Marshall of Cash in Folsom State Prison in 1968, according to Music on Walls.

Fairey plans on creating a mural based on the rock band Queen in 2019, he told Music on Walls.

Voters in the Music on Walls competition chose the Cash mural from more than 30 murals worldwide. They can be found here.

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