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All our names for 2023


As we approach the end of 2023, A+E’s critics and columnists are taking stock of the year to highlight some of the names making a difference in the city’s art.

In 1982, Carlos Tortolero and five others, most of them colleagues at Bowen High School, raised $900 to start what became known as the National Museum of Mexican Art. At the time, he knew a lot about Mexico but not much about art. It has since become one of the city’s cultural landmarks. He is retiring from the museum he founded on December 31.

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Jonathan Eig’s Martin Luther King Jr. His biography of King changed conventional perceptions of American history and worn-out mythology about King, seemingly in real time. It is already in its ninth edition. It was nominated for a National Book Award and looks likely to be nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in the spring. That’s not all: Universal Pictures has acquired the rights to the film, which will be produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by Chris Rock.

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Roche Schulfer, general manager and CEO of the Goodman Theatre, at the Albert Theater on December 4, 2023.

Under the supervision of Roche Schulfer, the Goodman Theater has completed one of the most financially and artistically successful calendar years in its long history. This follows a pandemic that has been devastating for the performing arts. Goodman’s current season represents his 50th year in management.

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Filmmaker Minhal Baig at Build Coffee in Woodlawn on December 6, 2023.  (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

Some years are easy. This year, the accomplishments of Rogers Park native and current Hyde Park resident Minhal Baig, rarely mentioned in interviews outside of Chicago, make Baig the Tribune’s Chicagoan of the Year in Film.

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24-year-old pianist Jahari Stampley won the Herbie Hancock International Jazz Competition on December 4, 2023, one of jazz's biggest prizes.

Jahari Stampley keeps coming back to one word to describe the last few months: “crazy.” It’s crazy that the 24-year-old, born and raised in Austin, even entered the prestigious Herbie Hancock Jazz Institute International Competition, much less won: He was on tour and almost forgot to apply.

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Chicagoans of the Year in Dance Katherine Selig, left, and Joffrey Ballet stage managers Mandy Heuermann at the Lyric Opera on November 28, 2023

The Joffrey Ballet’s stage managers, Mandy Heuermann and Katherine Selig, bear ultimate responsibility for ensuring that every lighted sign is fired on time, every prop is placed where it needs to be, and every set change goes off without a hitch.

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Music artist and techno DJ Ariel Zetina will be at Ping Tom Park on Wednesday, December 13, 2023.

Ariel Zetina was always supposed to be a star. The year 2023 was an important year when stars were born in his career. Following the successful release of her debut album, “Cyclorama,” in the fall of 2022 and appearing on many “best of” lists, Zetina has spent 2023 connecting with newfound fans around the world.

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Jessie Montgomery, Chicago Symphony Orchestra composer-in-residence, Tuesday, December 12, 2023.

These days, Chicago makes sense for Jessie Montgomery, now 42 and among the most aspiring composers of her generation. Montgomery lives in Pilsen, which has a vibrant arts scene and public spirit that reflects the Lower East Side of his youth. Indeed, in his eyes, most of Chicago is.

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