Geraldine L. Mailender: Member Highlight Interview

Image courtesy of Geraldine L. Mailender

Geraldine L. Mailender TAC Member Highlight Interview

After spending her formative years in Pittsburgh, PA, artist Geraldine L. Mailender attended The Ohio State University and earned an advanced degree in Occupational Therapy. Mailender then opened a successful occupational therapy health and wellness practice in Cincinnati, OH, where she raised her two children. After making her way to Florida, she was presented with the trip of a lifetime: a tour of the National Parks. From Grand Teton to Yellowstone to Mount Rushmore, Mailender absorbed the vibrant colors of America’s most pristine landscapes: lavender-grey mountains, deep blue waters, and the red-dotted fields of Indian paintbrush. “I saw such beauty, the colors are amazing,” says Mailender. “The wildflowers reminded me that I’ve been doing embroidery since I was seven years old.”

Her background in embroidery translates seamlessly into the work inspired by her travels. Combining Japanese embroidery techniques with watercolor paintings on silk, Mailender began to create her unique works of art. The silk Mailender embroiders upon is 34 momme—momme is the unit of measurement for silk’s density, the higher the count, the more threads—a dense, luxurious canvas for her watercolors. She buys the silk in large bolts sourced from France and Italy, then precisely cuts and finishes them into 18-by-18 squares: “I stretch the silk onto the Japanese wooden frame, there is no taping, no pasting, it’s all done with needles, no knotting. There is a step and a process to everything. So I do the painting, I do the embroidering, then I take it off and mount it over museum-grade poster board.” 

Geraldine L. Mailender, Mental (Healing, Learning)

Though the Japanese Embroidery Center is located in Atlanta, GA, Mailender was able to take part in weekend retreats given by an instructor from the Center living in Florida. After learning the basics of Japanese embroidery techniques, Mailender began experimenting in her own practice, inspired by her trip through the National Parks: “I began experimenting with the light, which was so important. On those trips, you get your money’s worth, they have you up at the crack of dawn. So I really got to see when the sun first comes up over Grand Teton it really is red, then turns to gold, so I thought, ‘Oh my God, I’ll get a chance to use gold floss.’” 

Mailender’s careful attention to light is reflected in the three pieces featured in The Art Center’s gift shop. Delicate threads of gold cast over pink and blue mountain silhouettes recall morning light brimming over the horizon in Mental (Healing, Learning). While bronze light dominates the frame in The Great Eclipse, a piece celebrating the beauty of the August 21st, 2017 total solar eclipse. These pieces and more can be found in The Art Center’s gift shop from now until July 1, 2023, as a part of our Member Highlight Program.

Want to learn more about Geraldine L. Mailender? Click here to visit her website.


Are you a current TAC member interested in being featured as a future member highlight? To apply, please fill out the Member Highlight Application, found here, and email it to or bring it to The Art Center office.

Not yet a member, but want to participate? Sign up for a TAC Membership here!


TAC 6 Month Update

We made it a policy to send you a 6-month progress report on how The Art Center Highland Park is fulfilling your expectations and using your generous support dollars. Our fiscal year starts in September, so March is our half-year mark. That means it is appropriate for you to ask: are we doing our best?

What’s New?

  • We are serving a whole new audience. Recently we began a collaborative program with Arts of Life, a not-for-profit for creative adults with developmental disabilities. The program has expanded from one class to three, with AOL staff working in our studios. All students are on scholarship and we don’t turn anyone away.
  • Post July 4, we continue to offer monthly programs for those affected by the tragedy. We plan to continue this partnership with The Art Impact Project.
  • EXCHANGE Events are now happening every month – thanks to a generous grant from Jessica and Steve Sarowitz and Wayfarer Theater we have underwriting for the next 12 months of EXCHANGE programming.
  • One more full-time employee. We now have a full-time marketing and design associate and our social media results are impressive. That could be why attendance at our events is so high!
  • The BEST place to be—as part of our initiative to be the favorite studio/gallery/meeting space on the north shore we have begun projects to make TAC a more welcoming space:
    • The jewelry studio has an additional studio space for the hydraulic press and a 5S-organized tool wall.
    • The mosaic studio had a MAJOR facelift with a new wall color, better-organized shelving and storage, new work tables, high back stools, and a 50” TV for demonstrations.
    • The hallways on the lower level are getting a warmer paint color and, thanks to a local Girl Scout Troop, are decorated with a beautiful new mural.
    • The lower lobby has a new paint job, too, with café tables, a coffee maker, a microwave, a mini-fridge, and a community chalkboard. We’re adding bench seats and a library next to make this a between-class hangout for faculty and students.
    • The Atrium space/student entry has new comfortable gallery-style seating and a couple of magazine racks that we keep stocked with the latest magazines from the world of arts and culture.

What Continues to be Successful?

  • Our Recycled Art Sale was a record-breaker! Generous donations from the community made this community favorite a big success. Next year we are moving it back inside the galleries after three years of COVID-safety awareness. That’s good news for our volunteers who will not have to huddle over space heaters or hold down the tent flaps in the fall winds.
  • Education is bouncing back. The 2023 Winter Session saw pre-COVID registration numbers as we continue to invite new teachers to our faculty and add new programs for all ages and skill levels. We have even added introductory prices for new classes and teachers to bring in a whole new group of students who we hope will stay with us for a long time.
  • EXCHANGE Events are growing. As mentioned above, along with underwriting, our recent speakers have been very popular and high-profile. Sculptors Donald Lipski and Omri Amrany, puppeteer Sam Lewis, artists Norman Teague, Rene Arceo, and Indira Johnson, and documentary filmmakers Bob Hercules and Brett A. Schwartz have educated and entertained full audiences of delighted patrons.
  • Senior Center Classes will continue. Since the Highland Park Senior Center moved to its new space, we have been their new home for all the art classes they offer.
  • Our gallery has hosted one amazing exhibit after another, with a ‘best of’ rating from New City Magazine, features in Sheridan Road Magazine, Highland Park Neighbors, reviews in the Chicago Reader, and a shout-out in the New York Times.


What’s Coming?

Late Night at the Galleries returns. We are booking musicians for our summer series of picnics and concerts on the lawn, giving evening access to our gallery exhibits. Want to be part of an energetic drum circle event?

Partnerships and collaborations. We are hosting or planning projects with as many of our partner not-for-profits and arts and culture providers as possible: The Balance Project, East on Central, Short Story Theatre, The Art Impact Project, Sister Cities, The Park District Highland Park, Highland Park Library, Highwood Library, the Wayfarer Theater at Renaissance Place, Facets Multimedia – and the list keeps getting bigger.

The Passion Project and Ignite Passion. Every spring we choose one hyper-dynamic exhibit as the setting for our annual spring benefit. This year we are celebrating our passion. As we say in our Vision Statement, “The Art Center Highland Park’s vision is to be a cultural destination that inspires and ignites a passion for the arts; providing a forum for self-expression, dialogue, and community engagement. On Friday, May 5, TAC will undoubtedly be the best place to be, with cocktails, a DJ, a silent auction, a raffle, live painting, art demonstrations, and a special performance by the world-famous Hubbard Street Dance.

So, back to our original question: are we doing our best? We hope you feel we are and that you remain confident in our ability to continue to offer creative and challenging gallery exhibits, a wide-ranging series of arts-related classes and instruction, and community-building programs that are unrivaled on the North Shore.

Thank you for your support!

The TAC Team


School and Group Gallery Tours

The Art Center is now offering School and Group Gallery Tours!

The program includes a docent-led tour of our current exhibit and a hands-on art activity that is connected to the theme or topic of the current exhibition.

The Art Center Highland Park has a richly deserved reputation as a regional arts destination with exhibits rotating at an average rate of every 6 weeks. For many North Shore school groups, it is much more convenient to make the trip to TAC than to visit The Art Institute or the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Scheduling: In most cases, groups can be scheduled with as little as a week’s notice, though two weeks’ advance notice is preferred.

Participants: Programs can be adapted for any age, including adults, and we can easily accommodate groups of up to 30 participants.

Pricing*: $20 per student for a half-hour docent-led tour of the exhibit(s) and a 30-35 minute hands-on art activity with all materials provided.

Timing: Our galleries are open from 10-4 PM, Monday through Saturday

Parking: There is plenty of public and street parking available.

Up Next: To preview upcoming exhibits at The Art Center visit or call 847-432-1888.


*We will never turn a group away because of budgetary concerns. Contact us if you have questions.

Looking for a program that is made to order? All of our programs are fully customizable. Call and arrange a consultation with our Director of Events, Jackie Chilow, at 847-432-1888 or email Jackie at