Essex was part of the pioneering spirit in San Diego bringing the arts into mental hospitals, residential treatment centers and other places where people needed the boon of the arts. Judith has always been near the nexus of arts and community in San Diego. In the 1970′s she created Dance Jam, a monthly movement experience that still runs in San Diego “I wanted to create a place where dancing was not a prelude to a pick-up, but rather a form of free personal expression.”
On September 15th 2001, The Expressive Arts Institute on Ray Street participated in the first Ray@ Night art crawl, an event which has now grown from a single short block, encompass the entire heart of North Park. This event was the foothold needed to revitalize the neighborhood. It was also in this Year that Co-Director Wes Chester MA, CAGS joined the institute.
In 2006, with the predictable gentrification driving rents through the roof, she and co-director Wes Chester took a gamble on a new, unfinished space in the heart of a revitalized Naval Training Center: the proposed Arts and Culture District of Point Loma’s Liberty Station. In the original wave of tennants, the institute has seen its neighborhood become a visual, lively and performing arts center.
Today, institute graduates work in numerous settings across the county and the country, and around the globe, bringing the work of expressive arts into nearly every conceivable setting: from schools to hospitals, from nursery to hospice, the arts are helping improve and enliven the breadth of human experience.