In 1986, if you walked east along Rivington Street, in New York’s Lower East Side, you would confront a hulk of metal and rebar, that twisted into the air like a giant spider hauling itself from the earth.
It was welded together, over many dope-fuelled nights, by a collection of artists, musicians and outsiders known as the Rivington School, who had salvaged the abandoned cars and scrap metal that littered their neighbourhood. They christened it the Rivington Sculpture Garden. At the other end of the street, artists like Keith Haring and Michael Basquiat were gaining international recognition and creating work that today sells for six figures. But the Rivington School's legacy has been largely erased, the victim of a city that bulldozed its work to exploit the property value it created.
Which is why a new book on the movement by its progenitors, Rivington School: 80s New York Underground, feels long overdue. We profiled its authors, essayists and artists in the new issue of Jocks & Nerds, where they recall a New York of cheap rents, cheaper drugs and endless creativity. To mark its launch, the Howl Arts Collective is hosting original member Toya Tsuchiya's exhibition Invisible Underground, as well as a series of events that revisit the School's work and practice.
The shows shine a light on an unfairly forgotten movement. Though little of its art survived, its spirit of DIY "art from anything" endures. Finally, the Rivington School is moving to the front of the class.