THERE IS A RADIANCE to Jess Yurwitz.  A comfort and a positivity that, when you have been warmed by it, stays with you. 

She is an artist and a teacher with over 30 years of experience in alternative schools.  But when we met five years ago, and began walking our dogs together, she had just left her position as a high school principal and was looking for something new.  She wanted to create a space where adults could come together, open up, and push past the things that hold them back; the things that hold us all back.  A place to create, try, laugh, and just be.  (And, of course, share her warmth and everlasting radiance.)  She did.  In 2019 Slow River Studios adult art school opened in a lovely studio space on Eastern Avenue in Essex, just across the way from Greenbelt’s Cox Reservation where Sharon Pacione worked — and saw a possibility.


Kris McGinn writes features and columns on local life around Cape Ann. In 2020 she won two national writing awards from the National Newspaper Association. She can be reached at