Arts & Entertainment

The Phoenix’s Year in Review: 2020 in A&E

Zack Miller | The PhoenixMatthias Regan continues to add to the "Neighborhood Memorial for the Victims of Police Violence," a memorial on a CTA viaduct wall created by a local art collective to commemorate individuals killed by police officers.

As 2020 comes to a close, The Phoenix looks back at the arts and entertainment section’s biggest stories from the year.


Feature Film ‘Just Mercy’ Could Sound Familiar to Loyola Students (Jan. 22)

Hannah Duff

Courtesy of Loyola University Chicago Bryan Stevenson, the author of “Just Mercy,” spoke at Loyola University Chicago’s New Student Convocation in 2016. He discussed his work as a lawyer and social justice activist fighting to help inmates on death row.

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.


‘It Was a Community of Creators’: Grammy-Nominated Rogers Park Local Attended Music’s Biggest Night (Feb. 19)

Alec Karam

Courtesy of Laurel Delaney Robert Marovich poses on the red carpet of the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Jan. 26, 2020.

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.


‘Neighborhood Memorial for Victims of Police Violence’ Continues to Grow More Than a Month After its Creation (Aug. 19)

Zack Miller

Zack Miller | The Phoenix Amy Partridge and Matthias Regan add names to the memorial wall.

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.


Rosca’s Ramblings: An Homage to My Favorite Place in Chicago (Aug. 19)

Emily Rosca

Emily Rosca | The Phoenix Central Camera is located at 230 S. Wabash Ave., where it has been situated since 1929.

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.  


‘Tenet’ Star John David Washington Talks Film’s Lessons of Honor, Espionage and Human Motivation (Sept. 8)

Lucas Naber

Melinda Sue Gordon | Warner Bros. Entertainment John David Washington (left) and Robert Pattinson star in “Tenet,” which was released in theaters Sept. 3.

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. 


As Seen on the Screen: Art Classes Manage Online Learning (Sept. 8)

Paige Twenter

Elle Jacobsen | The Phoenix In the past, the Fine Arts Senior Exhibition was held at the end of spring semester. This past year it can be found virtually from the DFPA’s website.

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.”


Masking Up for Halloween and COVID-19: Halloween Industry Reacts to Illinois Governor’s Ruling on Haunted Houses (Oct. 15)

Paige Twenter

Courtesy of Paul Ross The haunted house Nightmare On Leamington, a fundraiser for Our Lady of the Snows Elementary School, decided during the summer to remain closed.

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.


Rogers Park Resident Paints Local Nature, Houses and Buildings (Nov. 10)

Emily Rosca and Zack Miller

All photos courtesy of Zhanna Biletska Zhanna Biletska, 30, tries to paint once a day. She often depicts nature and houses around Rogers Park.

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.”


Dear TV Producers, Please Excuse COVID From This Narrative (Nov. 27)

Alec Karam

Courtesy of Walt Disney Television ABC’s “The Conners” was just one of many shows that have included the pandemic in their storylines.

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.

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