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Submitted by m3jimphoto on Wed, 03/23/2011 - 12:00am
Johnny CashJohnny Cash with June

Jim died one year ago today in New York City on the eve of a major Soho exhibition to herald “Match Print,” his collaborative book with photographer Timothy White. From your comments here on the blog and on our Facebook page, I can see that I’m not the only one who misses this profanely talented happy-sad, crazy-ass magnet of a man.  Writing this blog both helps and hinders. And that’s a good, appreciated thing.

Speaking of crazy-ass talent, it seems truly fitting to me that Jim’s last project – the gorgeously put together “Pocket Cash” and its attendant exhibitions in SF, NYC and London – is having one of its brightest moments as you read this post.  The book is in its second printing.  The exhibitions, full of never-before-seen images and first-time prints in limited editions, look brilliant.  In fact, if you’re in NYC or SF there are public openings (RSVP to attend) happening this week so you can go see for yourself.

“Pocket Cash” Exhibitions:

San Francisco Art Exchange
458 Geary Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Public opening: Saturday, March 26, 7pm-10pm
If you are intrigued about Johnny and June as musicians and people, and it’s within your power to see this work up close and personal. Go. Now. You won’t regret it.

Morrison Hotel Gallery, Soho, NY
124 Prince Street New York, NY 10012
Public opening: Thursday, March 24, 7:30pm*-10pm
*Prior to the opening, Michelle Dunn Marsh, Pocket Cash editor/designer, will give a brief talk/slideshow presentation from the book at the Apple store across from the gallery at 103 Prince St.

Snap Galleries
8 Piccadilly Arcade
London SW1Y 6NH
+44 20 7493 1152

From all the feedback we’ve been getting, I realize I’m not alone in saying that when I look at Jim’s pictures I find myself falling into them, wondering about the story behind the moment: What did Jim say?  What are they thinking?  And, mostly, how did Jim get so freakin’ close without destroying the moment?  I feel this deeply when I study his 30-year body of work documenting Johnny and June, especially June.

June Carter was a true natural-born and multifaceted talent.  Country and roots music royalty, she was born into the famed Carter Family and started out performing as a young girl with her mother Maybelle and sisters Helen and Anita.  A Grammy-winning singer (for her solo album “Press On” in 1999), dancer, actress, comedienne, humanitarian, wife and mom, June wrote “Jackson” and “Ring of Fire.” and “If I Were a Carpenter.”  Basically, she was brilliant and seemed to thrive at whatever she did, though she also seemed to be the last to think so herself.  Is it any surprise she so graciously held her own, and then some, with “The Man in Black”?

In doing a bit of research to fix my woeful ignorance of June’s biography, I came across this article by Gina Arnold from May 1999 in the Metro Newspapers online archive:

Between touring with her family and, later, touring with her husband, Cash has spent an inordinate amount of her life on the road, but always, somehow, in a position that could be termed second-fiddle.  She sounds surprised, however, when I broach that idea. “I was never looking back in regret. I never thought, ‘Oh, why didn’t I become an actress?’ or ‘Why did I just go paddling along after John?’  I’ve always walked along right by his side, and he’s always supported everything I do.  He’s just like my father that way -- my father just adored my mother and let her do whatever she wanted.  John’s like that. He’s a very rare man, a very good man, and I’ve had a good life with him.  

And Johnny, apparently, likes to walk in her wake as well. Asked if she’s planning to tour, Mrs. Cash says, “It depends on how Johnny’s feeling.  If we go back on the road, we will go together.  I’ll go where he goes, and he’ll go where I go.

Good stuff, right?  So if you’re lucky enough to own a copy of “Pocket Cash” or better yet see these prints in person, let me know if you have the same sensation that I have: The more you look at the pictures, the more powerful they seem to get.  Originally, I thought it was the love and strength June and John created, a sum more powerful than their prodigious parts.  But deep down, now that I’ve really thought some more about all of this stuff, I think it all starts with June, and I like to think Jim and Johnny would agree with that perception.

And, anyway, Jim’s not around anymore to tell me off if he thought I was wrong.  It’s at moments like these that I still can’t quite accept it.  “Tough shit,” as Jim would surely say, but he wouldn’t look me in the eye and there’d be a catch in his throat, and then he’d add: “It’s just the way it is, baby girl.”