So Much Good Under One Roof

So Much Good Under One Roof


Recently The Art Center once again played host to the Annual Awards Ceremony of The Highland Park Community Foundation. Each October grant recipients gather for a 90-minute meet and greet event during which they receive their grants for the coming fiscal year. None of the recipients know the amount of the award ahead of time and that adds to the excitement of getting together. Each group takes a photo with their HPCF Foundation Liaison and everyone is all smiles. It is a congenial and fun event, but it is also a seriously necessary part of life in our communities – Highland Park and Highwood.

The HPCF is a blessing to Gratitude Generation, not only because it helps provide funds to increase our programming and reach more people, but also because the leaders of the foundation are cheerleaders and personal supporters of our mission.

Nicki Sutherland, Executive Director, Gratitude Generation

Like the theme of the HPCF annual fundraiser, Gather for Good, the awards ceremony is a gathering of good people from good organizations who do good things for others: Cancer Wellness Center, Highland Park Community Early Learning Center, Midwest Young Artists Conservatory, Northern Illinois Food Bank, Highwood Library, Highland Park Library, plus some fifty or so others. This year, the HPCF distributed 63 annual grant awards, totaling $746,925 – $133,725 more than in 2021. The effect of this entity is exponential in creating services as they fulfill their promise to support organizations and programs that address the unmet needs of our community and expand opportunities for all Highland Park and Highwood residents.

The Bitter Jester Music Festival has been able to expand and improve its offerings to the Highland Park community – taking them to the next level – because of the HP Community Foundation’s financial and structural support.

Nic DeGrazia, Bitter Jester Music Festival

The good work of the Highland Park Community Foundation was the reason behind TAC honoring them for their 30th anniversary during our last Annual Spring Benefit. During the worst days of COVID HPCF sent out emails with resources for the community, including emergency funding for urgent needs, and they were the first (and best) choice to lead the July 4th Shooting Response Fund, award Golden Apples to exceptional educators, administer the Jack Blane Community Service Award, and consistently find new ways to serve the community.

The Highland Park Community Foundation is a critical partner in our efforts to bridge equity for those who are marginalized in our community. We are grateful for our partnership and look forward to continuing to collaborate in this effort.

Carmen Patlan, Executive Director, Highwood Library

The Art Center Highland Park has long been a grateful recipient of an annual grant from the foundation and it is one of our larger gifts, making our education, exhibits, events, and community-building programs possible. We invite our community to support and acknowledge the great work they do for all of us.

The Highland Park Community Foundation has repeatedly made the Library’s Note for Note concert series possible, bringing diverse cultural experiences to our community through music and often dancing in the aisles!

Heidi Smith, Executive Director, Highland Park Library


More information can be found by visiting their site.


Iron Five Video Event at TAC

One-night-only screening

Wilmette resident and Art Center Faculty member, Rino Liberatore will showcase his documentary “Iron Five”, chronicling the story of the 1963 Loyola Rambler Basketball Team, still the only school from Illinois to ever win the NCAA Championship in a game that shattered a racist barrier in college basketball.

In 1963 there was an unwritten rule in the NCAA prohibiting college teams to field more than two Black players at a time. Loyola’s starting line-up had four Black players and one white player. See what happened when they braved threats, tradition, and bigotry in this amazing documentary about the game Time magazine called one of the most important moments in college basketball history.

The film includes interviews with members of that celebrated team. “Iron Five” debuted at The Black Harvest Film Festival and aired on WGN-TV. It can only be seen at this special event on Thursday evening December 2nd at 7 PM at The Art Center, 1957 Sheridan Road in Highland Park. Advance tickets will are now available for this screening.

The Art Center, a not-for-profit organization, is the North Shore’s home for artistic discovery and creative exploration. Through innovative programs, exhibitions, and classes designed for all levels and ages, The Art Center provides a welcoming space for our diverse communities to experience and participate in the arts.

The documentary lasts 22 minutes and will be preceded by a director’s reel of archival work, and finish with a Q&A with the producer/director Liberatore. Question and Answer with the film’s creator will follow the presentation.


Vaccination proof must be supplied at the door and masks are required

$10 e-Ticket available here.

The Art Center is a Local Business Too!

The Art Center Highland Park is a Local Business, too.

Have you ever even considered the value of Highland Park having a thriving arts center just off-center of our downtown? Do you realize that we’re a business, too, and that we drive results to our community in a big way?

You may not think of it in this light, but we’re a business, too.

  • We employ 3 full-time and 4 part-time employees year-round
  • We have a pool of 60 teachers who are independent contractors and depend on us for income
  • We create summer employment for teens in our summer camps
  • We never turn down a scholarship request and have done outreach programming from Highland Park to Waukegan
  • We collaborate with other not-for-profits to support their success by offering discounted rental rates or free room use when possible
  • We operate on just under a $1m budget and (pre-COVID) trend income positive
  • We don’t always ask for ‘freebies’: we regularly buy hardware supplies, use caterers, buy beer/wine/liquor, use printers, security companies, plumbers, landscapers, and electricians and we choose local businesses as often as we can.
  • We do not own our building – we pay rent to the city
  • Our employees, teachers, and students shop and eat locally
  • We attract 30,000 attendees each year to our events, classes, and festivals
  • For our summer concerts on the lawn, we incentivized attendees to shop/dine locally and gave them a free raffle ticket if they could show a same-day receipt.
  • Our executive director is on the city’s Cultural Arts Advisory Group and is a member of the Chamber of Commerce
  • Our Art Walk recently showcased over 40 stores throughout the city at no cost to the store owners
  • Our gift shop offers unique gifts and we charge sales tax like any other store
  • Our events bring YOU sales

“Event-related spending by arts audiences reflects an average of $22.87 per person in spending for hotels, restaurants, parking, souvenirs, refreshments, or other similar costs-with non-local attendees spending nearly twice as much as local attendees ($38.05 compared to $21.75)”


As we tell people, the arts are not the icing on the cake, but a key ingredient to success. We want to remind you that we’re willing partners for anything that we can do to support the health and welfare of the Highland Park business community and we hope we can count on you for any support you can give us in return – raffle items, hang our event posters in your windows, and consider holding events, parties, or team building events at our center.

We want to be YOUR business partner. Please reach out to us for any ideas for collaboration, brainstorming, or programming that will support your business. We are invested in our community and hope you are invested in us.

Reach out to James M. Lynch, Executive Director, 847-432-1888, ext. 4


Please also reference our arts community friends: Bitter Jester Music Festival, Ravinia Festival, Highland Park Players, Makkai Ballet, North Shore School of Dance, Soul 2 Sole, and others

Henri Dauman: a Conversation

This is a unique event for The Art Center. We rarely feature one artist, one artistic medium in our main gallery. But when we were offered the opportunity to be the FIRST midwest exhibitor of the photography of Henri Dauman we jumped on it. The exhibit is open from October 1 through November 13, Monday through Saturday, 10-4, or by special arrangement for groups with special needs or other requests. Read more about it by CLICKING HERE.

The night before the opening Curator Caren Helene Rudman and Executive Director James M Lynch had the opportunity to talk to Henri and his granddaughter, Nicole Suerez, and her husband, Peter Kenneth Jones, respectively the Producer and Director of the documentary film about Henri’s life, Looking Up. The video below is a part of the conversation they had about the life, work, and future of this gifted genius, Henri Dauman.

Update on COVID Policy, Masks and Vaccination

Dear Faculty, Students, and Staff;

It has been great to have live classes back in our building for the past few months. We’ve made every effort to remain a safe space, with masks, smaller classes, and social distancing. Whenever possible our events and get-togethers have been staged on our front lawn to minimize the risks of social gatherings.

Unfortunately, with the new Delta variant, we need to go back to stricter controls. Here are the requirements for visiting TAC as of September 7, 2021.

  1. For our Fall classes, we plan to be fully in-person in our galleries, events, and classes.
  2. All in-person staff, faculty, students ages 12 and up, and vendors must be vaccinated*
  3. Faculty, TAC Staff, and Students ages 12 and up are required to show proof of their vaccination status and proof-of-vaccination documentation by September 7 (per Governor Pritzker’s Executive Order, issued August 26, 2021)
    1. You can present your documentation to either the Director of Education, Mairin Hartt, or Executive Director, James Lynch,  on the day of your first class or can email your documentation to the Director of Education
    2. TAC will not keep your documentation on file and you are not required to show proof-of-vaccination documentation to anyone at TAC except the Director of Education or the Executive Director. **
  4. All staff, faculty, students, and vendors will be required to be vaccinated to attend live events, classes, or workshops.
  5. Keep your proof with you. TAC reserves the right to ask for proof of vaccination status for any participant in live programs, classes, or workshops held in our facility.
  6. Regardless of vaccination status, anyone entering the premises of TAC will be required to wear masks covering their nose and mouth, including in studios and classes.
  7. As per CDC and IDPH guidelines, a minimum of 3-feet distancing will be maintained in classes and throughout the building to the extent possible.
  8. Remember: Break-through Covid-19 infections are possible even for vaccinated individuals. We continue to require that you should stay home if you are not feeling well and not return to live classes, studio time, or events until you test negative for COVID-19.
  9. We will continue to monitor state and CDC guidelines and update our policies accordingly. Let’s hope for the best.

* If you are not vaccinated, you must show proof of receiving the first Covid Vaccination shot or proof that you have scheduled your first shot Covid Vaccination shot. If you have received your first Covid Vaccination shot, you must show proof of schedule for the second injection within 42 days of the first shot. All in-person Faculty, TAC Staff, and eligible students must be fully vaccinated by October 30.

** In the case of a medical exemption, medical documentation will need to be provided to the Director of Education or Executive Director.

*** Please review the In-Person Open Studio and Class Safety Protocols specific guidelines and updates.

Ivan Hernandez Salinas: From Intern to Faculty

Meet Ivan Hernandez Salinas, a faculty member at The Art Center. Ivan came to the center in the summer of 2020 as an intern – and we all know how that worked out. With no live summer camp or classes, Ivan and Executive Director James M. Lynch created a new plan. Drawing on his experience as a graffiti artist they approached Curt’s Cafe, a local not-for-profit with ties to the arts community, and offered them a mural for the side of their Highland Park facility.

Ivan held brainstorm sessions with Curt’s Cafe students and came up with a design idea. Because of COVID strictures, the work had to be done in small groups, over time, but Ivan managed to create an 8×8′ mural entitled ‘Rise Up’. He made sure that each of the students got a chance to add their own brushwork to the finished piece, creating a sense of pride and ownership.

This summer Ivan returned to The Art Center as a full-fledged faculty member, leading several of the summer camp sessions and contributing as an artist to several projects, including ‘Draw Together’ and the recent National Night Out, sponsored by the Highland Park Police Department. A favorite with students and staff, Ivan heads back to Illinois State University on August 16 to finish his final year of studies, a culmination of years of hard work and a much-deserved reward.

The youngest of 3 boys, Ivan’s family is from Waukegan, where his brothers are in construction. As a teen he worked in landscaping and construction and came to Highland Park High School as part of an outreach initiative, earning a spot in the College Bound Opportunities program, and a Minority Teachers Scholarship. It was his mentor, Allan Rossman, who introduced him to the art center with support from local philanthropist Jonathan Plotkin. “Things have worked out great,” says Ivan, “and I will always feel like part of the TAC team, no matter where I go or where life leads me.”

Follow Ivan on Instagram: _Chico_brown_

The Art Center Highland Park Will Never Look the Same

Starting mid-April of this year The Art Center Highland Park will feature a new

website with a more dynamic ‘look and feel’, according to Executive Director James M. Lynch. That’s not the only change coming in the next few weeks, as the 61-year old not-for-profit arts organization looks to a dynamic, energy-charged future. Aside from a new overall look, the new website will feature an updated Mission and Vision Statement and, for the first time in many years, a completely redesigned logo.

“We are extremely lucky to have some amazingly talented board members who offered their services pro bono,” says Shana Guthman, Board President. “The team worked for months, brainstorming, doing market research, presenting ideas, and working in a committee specially created for this purpose. When they pre

sented the results of this months-long project to the full board, the response was unanimous approval.”

Debbie Hall, board member and past board president, of MindsView Innovation, led the brand strategy committee. The challenge was to make the TAC brand more relevant and important to the target consumers, especially young families who are once again moving into the area. For TAC it is important to reach the art ‘dabblers’ and experimenters of all ages, and also the skilled and advanced artists looking to learn, grow and create. Another segment that TAC is targeting is the ‘Arts Edu-tainment’ seekers, from the art curious to art enthusiasts looking for cool city culture in a convenient, suburban location.

Associate Board members Rietje and Sam Becker of Rietje and Sam Design, stepped up to do the design work that would complete the new ‘package’. They presented three concepts to the committee, with the major challenge that all three were ‘winners’. Ultimately the team decided on a logo which was based on the actual shape of TAC’s building that will ‘frame’ social media, banners and marketing and be featured on a new line of t-shirts, aprons, pins and tote bags, plus other ‘swag’, soon to be featured in the new online gift shop.

“With these new developments, we’ve opened up a whole new world of possibilities,” says Lynch, “As we expand to be not only an arts center, but a cultural center, with new classes on offer,  new programs like the monthly ‘Sunday Salons’, where creative artists from multiple genres, film, dance, theatre, will present and discuss their work. It is not just a win-win for us and the community, it’s a win-win-win for our extended community, for our growing national and international partners, and for the supporters who have stood by and invested in the growth and success of The Art Center Highland Park for 61 years.”

For more information on art classes, events, and other activities, visit: or call 847-432-1888.

TAC is located at 1957 Sheridan Road, Highland Park, with plenty of street parking available, only three blocks from the Metra Stop. Hours are Monday-Friday, 10AM-4PM, Saturday, 12-4PM.