Folsom approves master plan for public art along Johnny Cash Trail

Folsom plans a Johnny Cash Trail Art Experience to honor the country star’s 1968 Folsom Prison concerts.
Folsom plans a Johnny Cash Trail Art Experience to honor the country star’s 1968 Folsom Prison concerts. Associated Press file

The master plan for public art on a trail in Folsom that celebrates landmark 1968 concerts at Folsom Prison by country singer Johnny Cash has been approved by the City Council.

Now it is up to the public – including the late artist’s many fans – to come up with the $8 million required for the Johnny Cash Trail Art Experience.

“I think we will get there,” Folsom Parks and Recreation Director Robert Goss said.

The public art project will feature eight pieces of artwork, including two 7-foot-tall bronze monument guitar picks, steel poles depicting a silhouette of Cash playing guitar and a slightly large-than-life bronze sculpture of the Man in Black.

The sculpture depicts Cash during one of his two 1968 prison concerts at the prison. The appearances spawned a best-selling album “At Folsom Prison” and a hit record, the live recording of “Folsom Prison Blues.”

A 3-acre Johnny Cash Legacy Park will be at the corner of East Natoma Street and Folsom Lake Crossing. The park will have elements about Cash, his band, the Tennessee Three, and the “At Folsom Prison” album.

The park will also include traditional park amenities and a connection to the Johnny Cash Trail and a bike-pedestrian overcrossing. In October, the city opened the first phase: a 1.25-mile segment of the Johnny Cash Trail and a bike-pedestrian bridge at Folsom Lake Crossing and East Natoma Street.

The $3.8 million overcrossing spans Folsom Lake Crossing Road and parts of it are inspired by the prison’s granite East Gate guard tower, drawing on a famous picture taken of Cash before the concert.

As for the public art, Romo Studios of Sacramento and the Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt-Amrany of Highwood, Ill., were selected as the project artist teams, both in collaboration with the RRM Design Group of San Luis Obispo.

The remaining 1.25-mile second phase of the trail is expected to be finished in 2017. The second and final segment of the Cash trail will begin at Cimmaron Circle and includes an undercrossing at Prison Road.

The trail will continue behind City Hall, where a 190-foot wooden bridge over a ravine will provide picturesque views of the American River and Lake Natoma. The trail provides access to Sutter Street and the American River Parkway trail.

The trail winds through oak-studded grassland and much of it is on Folsom Prison property.

“This project could only be done here,” Goss said. “Folsom Prison is integrated into the community here. The concert was so important to Johnny’s career and put the city on the map.”

The city is seeking corporate and grass-roots donations to fund the public art project. The parks department and the Folsom Arts Association have launched a fundraising campaign.

Tax deductible donations may be made through the Folsom Arts Association at www.FolsomCashArtTrail.com.

“Click on PayPal and donate if you are a Johnny Cash fan, a trail fan, a public art fan, or a cycling fan and you think this is an inspired idea,” Goss said.

Bill Lindelof: 916-321-1079, @Lindelofnews

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