As 2020 comes to a close, The Phoenix looks back at the arts and entertainment section’s biggest stories from the year.
Loyola students heading to movie theaters at the end of January may have recognized one of the movies listed at the box office. “Just Mercy” was adapted from a memoir of the same name written by renowned lawyer and social justice activist Bryan Stevenson, who stopped by Loyola in 2016.
Stevenson came to Loyola to speak to students at the New Student Convocation about his memoir, which had been assigned as the first-year text the same year.
Robert Marovich — a gospel music historian and Loyola WLUW radio host who resides in Rogers Park — attended the 2020 Grammy Awards Jan. 26 after receiving a nomination for Best Album Notes. The nominated piece consists of 160 pages detailing the history of the gospel company Malaco Music Group through text, photos and an 8-CD box set.
While attending the ceremony, Marovich ran into some of the music industry’s biggest stars, including the likes of Ariana Grande and Flavor Flav. Despite the amount of star power present during his red carpet experience, Marovich just enjoyed talking shop with those who shared his passion.
In the wake of global protests over the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed by Minneapolis police officers, Rogers Park residents came together July 4 to create an art piece memorializing those killed by law enforcement.
Led by the P.O. Box Collective (6900 N. Glenwood Ave.), a local creative group dedicated to building community through “radical art,” community members helped adorn a CTA viaduct with multicolored posters reading “we miss you,” with the death date and name of people killed by police officers.
In the looting that followed protests this summer, beloved Central Camera found itself in the crossfire, going up in flames May 30. While the 121-year-old store is still in the process of renovating, they’ve opened a temporary location next door (228 S. Wabash Ave.) to their original space.
The summer after her first year of college, Arts Editor Emily Rosca was introduced to Central, located in Chicago’s Loop, which specializes in film photography. Soon becoming a regular, she dedicated a Rambling to the shop that made her fall even more in love with Chicago.
Upon its theatrical release Sept. 3, all eyes were on Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” as the first big-budget picture released amid the pandemic. Phoenix reporter Lucas Naber attended a roundtable Zoom interview with John David Washington, where the actor explained what likely made him Nolan’s choice for a lead. The reasons: a natural inclination to focus on the details of the movie and a drive to put his character outside the norm for the espionage genre.
“There was so much fertile ground to grow something new,” the former NFL player said of the way he was able to build his character.
After classes were abruptly forced online by the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring, Loyola’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts (DFPA) decided June 1 to remain online for the fall.
The DFPA’s 100 fall courses adapted to their new online platforms, facing challenges along the way, though some professors saw it as an opportunity to “add new content and experiment with new approaches.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic raged into the later half of the year, a new industry stood to be affected by the virus: haunted houses. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced in a Sep. 30 press conference the spooky attractions would be banned under Restore Illinois Phase 4 Guidelines.
However, because the state’s COVID guidelines are locally enforced, some haunts were still allowed to open for the season. While those that opened confronted challenges with scaring patrons from a distance, those that remained closed faced the financial struggles many industries have seen during the pandemic.
Zhanna Biletska has been painting scenery around Rogers Park since she moved to the area three years ago. With pandemic-related restrictions in place, she found herself with many commissions from residents asking for her en plein-air — translated from French to “in the open air” — paintings of their homes.
“People are always really nice,” Biletska said. “People are always impressed when they see the painting and it looks so much like the building.”
In a year marred by the COVID-19 pandemic and all its impacts on society, some TV producers decided the best route was to embed it into their scripts. In his commentary, writer Alec Karam penned a note to producers saying people want to escape when watching TV, not be reminded of their gloomy present.