Flyer Exclusive: First Look at New Johnny Cash Statue


Artist Mike McCarthy contemplates sharing his Cash with the world. - DAN BALL
  • Dan Ball
  • Artist Mike McCarthy contemplates sharing his Cash with the world.
Mark Lovell, who has partnered with Darrin Hillis in running the Delta Fair since it began in 2007, has a soft spot for Johnny Cash. This year, the fair will host a Johnny Cash Family Reunion. But that's not the half of it: Lovell is also the current owner of the former Galloway United Methodist Church on Cooper and Walker. The fact that the building witnessed Cash's first ever performance with band mates Marshall Grant and Luther Perkins, in 1954, is not lost on him.

Indeed, since early 2017, preparations have been made for a larger-than-life statue of Cash to be erected on or near the church grounds. Local auteur Mike McCarthy, who is as adept with clay as he is with paper, pen, and celluloid, has recently completed the work, which occupied a place of honor in his living room as he worked on it for over a year.

Johnny Cash - LEIGH WIENER
  • Leigh Wiener
  • Johnny Cash
“While I am no longer involved in the daily goings-on of Legacy Memphis (the non-profit I co-founded),” says McCarthy, “I believe there is an effort to unveil the statue, perhaps as early as November, in front of the new apartment building between Stone Soup and Galloway United Methodist Church.”

Most of Midtown has been abuzz about the work since McCarthy was contracted to create the work last June. Here, at long last, the Memphis Flyer presents an exclusive preview of McCarthy's work: the clay form from which a bronze statue has already been cast by the local Lugar Foundry. The work is based on a period-appropriate photo of Cash, from early in his career. Of course, the bronze version won't sport those red buttons, which McCarthy lovingly lifted from one of his late mother's dresses.

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