Ed Higgins, ‘Wingnut’ Artist of the Rivington School, Dies at 72

Posted on: December 20th, 2021 at 5:02 am by

Photo: Adrian Wilson

Ed Higgins III, a seminal Lower East Side artist known as a pillar of the Rivington School movement in the 1980s, and for his unique “mail art,” died earlier this month. He was 72.

Friends allegedly found Higgins in his Ludlow Street apartment last week after not hearing from him for several days. We’re told that cause of death was reportedly a heart attack.

Ed Higgins III lived in the same rent stabilized Ludlow Street tenement since 1976. Forty-five years after moving from Colorado to the Lower East Side as a recent graduate. You’ve probably seen him and his artwork around the neighborhood, but never thought twice about it. Namely, the “wingnut” icon of, you guessed it, a nut with wings.

(The imagery comes from the Midwest slang of a “wingnut,” one who is somewhat off the wall.)

Ludlow gang 2017 – Richie with Tom Otterness, Vickie Rovere, Ed Higgins, and Joe Rossser, Photo: Adrian Wilson

Co-founder and so-called graduate of the Rivington School of artists, Higgins focused his creative energies on “Mail Art.” Creating hyper-artistic postage stamps for what he called the Doo Da Post.

Of his stamp art, Higgins notes on his website:

It is probably more important to stamp artists to communicate with each other than with the general public. It is to me. But I like to see my work in shows and have people know more about the work of all stamp artists. Some people think it ironic artists’ stamps can’t always get work through the mail. But that’s not their point. Again, the point is art, the communication of ideas.

Back in 2016, Artist Adrian Wilson, whose Inutilius Retailer shop was making headlines on Ludlow Street, had worked on a joint mural with Higgins in the vacant lot just up the block.

Photo: Adrian Wilson

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