1968: A Folsom Redemption

Celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of a landmark concert that revived his music career, 1968: A Folsom Redemption is a collection of photographs and memories of two journalists lucky enough to be among a handful of eyewitnesses to the historic concerts. This candid and personal photography exhibition covers a critical juncture in the career of one of the twentieth century’s most beloved performers.

In January 1968, Johnny Cash was at a crossroads. His music career, in a slow decline for several years, was in need of a smash hit. He had recently straightened out his personal life, and leadership changes at his record label meant he was able to finally convince them of the merits of a live recording in a prison setting. Cash had been performing for inmates as far back as 1957, when he received a stream of requests from prisoners who identified with the man who sang “Folsom Prison Blues.” This connection developed with prisoners during these concerts had made him increasingly sympathetic to those he would later call “the downtrodden.”

Working as freelance journalists, photographer Dan Poush and writer Gene Beley met with Cash and his family the day before the concerts began, at the invitation of Reverend Floyd Gressett, a friend of Cash’s who ministered to inmates and helped set up the show at Folsom State Prison with Recreation Director Lloyd Kelley. After practicing the set with the Tennessee Three at Hotel El Rancho the night before, on January 13, 1968, Cash, along with opening acts Carl Perkins and the Statler Brothers, performed two separate shows in the dining hall at Folsom.

Notable for capturing Cash’s ability to connect with his audience, the recordings crackled with the excitement of an adoring crowd.

The resulting album, At Folsom Prison, was released four months later to critical and popular acclaim. Beley’s first-person account of those days, and his knowledge of the storylines at work behind the scenes, make this a fascinating exploration of the little-known aspects of a well-known event in popular culture. 1968: A Folsom Redemption takes the viewer right into the heart of this pivotal moment in the life and career of one of the twentieth-century’s most important and cherished musical personalities.

For the first time ever, this travelling road show collection of thirty-two photos features a wide range of intimate photos with friends and family to a backstage meeting with country music legend Merle Haggard with the Man in Black. This exhibition highlights Cash’s golden era from the January 1968 Folsom prison album recording to a March 1, 1969 concert in Anaheim, California when he was getting ready to launch his network television show.


Martin-Lett Gallery of Art

The Martin – Lett Gallery, named for two founding members of the Oxford Arts Council, opened in July 2014. The gallery, located off the main lobby, exhibits different displays throughout the year. Artists may be local or may be represented by out-of-state galleries. Most art is for sale.

Gallery exhibits help to support the visual arts and expose our audiences to new artists. The Martin – Lett Gallery is an educational and entertaining extension of the arts offered at our venue.

Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday, 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and during all OPAC events.

Past Exhibitions

July 2014    J.J. L’Heureux                                                                     

October 2014    Hawaiian Quilts: "A Family Legacy" by Charles Remington                           

November 2014    The Art of Jerry Marks                                                   

February 2015    Oxford: At the Crossroads of History                                                          

June 2015    "Into the Woods" by JSU Students                                                      

July 2015    Chy Rose Arts by Lynn C. Phillips                                                  

October 2015    From the Back Yard to the Tropics by Larry K. Martin                  

April 2016    The Art of Lothar “Jack” Hadder                                          

August 2016    "Cast of Blues" by Sharon McConnell-Dickerson                                             

November 2016    "From the Artic to the Tropics" by Larry K. Martin

March 2017       Sign of the Times: The Great American Political Poster

May 2017    Oxford City Schools Artwork                                

June 2017    The Art of Jerry Marks       

July 2017    The varied works of Sandy Sparks

September 2017    Second Time Around: Hub Caps as Art

November 2017    "Artistic Treasures" by Ann Bradberry Robertson

January 2018    "Images of the South" The Varied Artworks of Dr. Arthur "Art" Bacon

March 2018    The Varied Artworks of Barbara Davis

May 2018    Oxford City Schools Student Artwork

September 2018    A Photo Album of Ireland

November 2018    The Artwork of John Denney, III

January 2019    The Artwork of James Brantley

May 2019    Oxford City Schools Student Artwork

August 2019    The Artwork of David Cummings

October 2019    The Artwork of Mila Hirsch

November 2019   Borderlands | Zonas Fronterizas - Paintings of Juan Lopez-Bautista

January 2020    Oxford City Schools Student Artwork

April 2020    Highlights in Low Light - Photographer CJ Foster

September 2021    Through Darkness to Light: Photographs Along the Underground Railroad

November 2021    Art of the Aloha Shirt: Keoni of Hawaii

January 2022    Oxford City Schools Student Art Show

April 2022    Young at Art: A Collection of Caldecott Illustrations

May 2022    A Salute to Our Own: A Collection from the Talladega Hall of Heroes Museum

February 2023    Oxford City Schools Student Art Show

March 2023    Dragons: An Exhibit from the Berman Museum

August 2023    Small Wonders: Insects in Focus

November 2023    Kinship Bonds: Family and Slavery in Calhoun County

Upcoming Exhibitions

November 2023    1968: A Folsom Redemption
Celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of a landmark event, 1968: A Folsom Redemption is a collection of photographs and memories of two journalists lucky enough to be among a handful of eyewitnesses to the historic Johnny Cash concerts at Folsom Prison. This candid and personal photography exhibition covers a critical juncture in the career of Johnny Cash, one of the twentieth century’s most beloved performers.

Winter/Spring 2024    Student Art Show featuring Oxford City Schools

Martin - Lett Gallery of Art Board Members

  • Crystal Hancock
  • Marilyn Lipscomb-Clark
  • John Longshore
  • Amanda Wentzel, Gallery Director - awentzel@oxfordpac.org