For our January story Here We Are Now, we sent Portland photographer John W. Clark to Aberdeen, Washington, to shoot the town where Kurt Cobain grew up. The story focuses on Aberdeen, a downbeat logging community an hour West of Olympia, and how it's embracing Cobain and his legacy, some 20 years after the musician took his own life. A series of memorials have popped up around town, attracting a small but steady stream of Nirvana fans from all over the world. Said the town's mayor in a press conference last year: "We hope that Aberdeen will be just as big as Graceland."
Illustrating the piece, we knew, would be a challenge. Aberdeen isn't the kind of sun-dappled suburb that screams Put me in a magazine! We asked John to photograph the memorials—a statue, a mural, a muddy pocket pock—but also to go deeper. To capture the mood and tone of the landscape that inspired the music. What he came back with was a hauntingly beautiful portrait. Raw and brooding and, like the best of Cobain's music, deeply personal. Here are some shots that are too good not to share, along with the photographer's commentary. —Nino Padova
Listen to author Bill Donahue read his piece in our January issue, Here We Are Now.