Whitehot Magazine

Death of a Consummate Mailer: Ed Higgins

Edward Higgins III, Pottery Issue, 37/100, 1997.

By JOHN DRURY, December 2021

Edward Higgins III died last week. 

As sole proprietor his infamously ingenious Doo Da Post, Ed would religiously strap on his messenger’s bag each day when departing the tiny Ludlow Street apartment that he inhabited for forty-five years - that the space where he both lived and produced his paintings, and the sheets of stamps that he lovingly sleeved and bound in a three-ring binder…that then, stashed inside the courier’s accoutrement. Ed Higgins, like so many idiosyncratic makers marching to the beat of their own proverbial drummer - not the increasingly common makers of faddish or pre-meditated folly in pursuit gallery or collector embrace - was thus, not easily categorized. 

Edward Higgins III, Fish Eye Commemorative, 47/100, 1994.

Sure, he was a “mail artist”, as he had come to be known - as had his pals Buster Cleveland and Ray Johnson - but that sloppy moniker defines more his (and their) actions than his varied creations. And sure, Ed was a founding member of the Rivington School - even seemingly their poster boy - that band of rowdy, downtown blue collar-esque pranksters. But that collaborative effort that Higgins shared with like purveyors of a scrappy, make-do determination grounded in menial labor and a relished after-hours life…an attitude so sadly missing in those the patrons of skyrocketing rents in his neighborhood and fast-food aesthetics…was more a place of off-the-street refuge and relished comradery, than any true -ism or signature practice. 

Edward Higgins III, Popcorn Issue, 58/100, undated.

News of Ed’s passing is as likely to be enveloped and sent – shared à la “old school” - and via snail-mail, to the far corners of the world to those that he regularly corresponded with by way his voluminous mailings, as any up-to-date electronic means. The gregarious Ed Higgins much preferred the friendly “hands-on”, and when possible, shared face-to-face company of those from his beloved Lower East Side of Manhattan and well beyond. There should be a commemorative stamp for that. WM


John Drury

John Drury is a multi-media artist, published author, independent curator and instructor. Drury holds a Bachelor of Fine Art degree from the Columbus College of Art and Design (1983) and a Master of Fine Art Degree in sculpture (1985; including a minor in painting), from Ohio State University. John is the father of two teenagers, living in New York City since 1989 and has received the prestigious Louis Comfort Tiffany Award for his work in sculpture.

view all articles from this author