While reporting this issue’s travel feature in Wynwood—a piece about how street art revitalized a forsaken Miami neighborhood—I turned a corner I’d rounded many times before and was startled by a new mural: a 50-foot humpback whale emerging from the back of a woman’s head as a constellation of stars connected her brain to the whale’s heart. Whoa.
At its best, art has a way of taking us aback like this, and the same can be said of travel. It’s the joy of the unexpected, and it’s something we’ve put on the pages of this month’s American Way. We found a man, for instance, who creates exquisite thumb-sized vases on a tiny throwing wheel, and another who helps military veterans readjust to civilian life by trapping invasive pythons. We also visit Marfa, the remote Texas town with a population of around 2,500, which also happens to be a surprisingly fitting home to some of the most striking modern art in the U.S.
Elsewhere, the famously gruff comedian and UFC commentator Joe Rogan encourages us to be sappy this Valentine’s Day, while our cover star, the wonderfully offbeat singer Janelle Monáe, reveals an interest in astrophysics. To round things off, we have a feature on the salty fishermen and women who gather each year in Astoria, Oregon, to recite poetry—and maybe shed a few tears.
Speaking of the unexpected: This issue of American Way is the work of a brand new editorial team—and, trust me, we had a few surprises putting it together. But, again, we are all delighted with how the issue turned out, and we hope you will be, too.