In times of un­cer­tainty and doubt, the arts can be ev­ery­thing from a salve and needed es­cape to a call to arms or a bridge across di­vi­sions. In this city of mu­si­cians, writ­ers, artists, and other cre­atives, the arts are not only es­sen­tial, they’re thriv­ing like never be­fore. Just look at The Con­tem­po­rary Austin’s re­cently ren­o­vated Jones Cen­ter, which now fea­tures Jim Hodges’ “With Lib­erty and Jus­tice for All (A Work in Progress)” in­stal­la­tion wrapped around the build­ing so that it shines its mes­sage of hope down on Congress Av­enue.

In Fe­bru­ary, The Blan­ton Mu­seum re­opens its sec­ond-floor gal­leries, which now have much more space to show­case its per­ma­nent col­lec­tion (page 86). We are proud to spon­sor the ex­quis­ite Blan­ton Gala to cel­e­brate the re­launch as well as honor arts pa­trons Jeanne and Michael L. Klein. An­other ex­cit­ing event we are thrilled to sup­port is next year’s Bern­stein 100 Austin, a cel­e­bra­tion en­vi­sioned by Austin Sym­phony mae­stro Peter Bay to mark the cen­ten­nial year of mu­sic leg­end Leonard Bern­stein—it will cen­ter around two fully staged per­for­mances of the

MASS. com­poser’s epic You’ll be read­ing a lot more about this land­mark, col­lab­o­ra­tive event lead­ing up to the con­certs in June 2018.

Of course, mu­sic and film are Austin’s cre­ative cor­ner­stones. Our cover fea­tures the Austin band Spoon, the in­die-rock icons who will have a three-night res­i­dency dur­ing SXSW to co­in­cide with the re­lease of their new al­bum, Hot Thoughts. Also in this is­sue, I talked to Austin writer/ di­rec­tor Jeff Ni­chols about his pro­found film Lov­ing and be­ing hon­ored at the Texas Film Awards (page 60). An­other of Austin’s il­lus­tri­ous direc­tors, Ter­rence Mal­ick, will pre­miere his movie Song to Song on SXSW’s open­ing night. I spoke with two of the movie’s pro­duc­ers, Aus­tinites Sarah Green (also a pro­ducer on Lov­ing) and Ni­co­las Gonda, about the star-stud­ded movie, which was filmed in part at SXSW, ACL Fest, and Fun Fun Fun Fest over sev­eral years, spark­ing much spec­u­la­tion among lo­cals who were there (in­clud­ing my­self!).

SXSW will bring to­gether artists from around the world, turn­ing Austin into a global cul­tural hot­bed. The cur­rent po­lit­i­cal cli­mate will cer­tainly un­der­score much of the fest (FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey is a speaker, after all), so get ready for a charged cou­ple of weeks. In the mean­time, en­joy this first Austin Way of 2017, in­clud­ing some of the changes we made through­out the book (be­cause we’re cre­ative types too).

(clock­wise from top left) I caught up with singer Mela Sara­jane Dai­ley after she per­formed at a pri­vate fundraiser for next year’s Bern­stein 100 Austin; with Camila Alves and Rebecca Fe­fer­man at a spe­cial Alamo Draft­house pre­view of Gold, the lat­est...

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