Peter Pereira, an artist, illustrator, photographer and cartoonist whose work brought wit and whimsy to Straus News Manhattan’s newspapers for the past eight years, died on Nov. 10, 2021 at his home in Delray Beach, Florida, after a long illness. He was 59 years old.
“He will be cartooning in heaven,” said his wife, Karina Holosko.
Pereira was born on May 15, 1962 in Queens and grew up in the Bronx, honing his artistic and musical interests throughout the boroughs of New York City. He and his wife started off in Tudor City, “in the tiniest apartment,” Holosko said, then moved to Spanish Harlem where “Peter played guitar on the rooftop with homeless Vietnam vets.” On one occasion, Carlos Santana showed up.
In time, the couple settled on the Upper East Side, which became their home – and the subject of many of Pereira’s wryly-observed Toons, capturing people on the street, shop owners, dog-walkers and other neighborhood regulars, with snippets of their conversations. “Peter put the flavor back in the neighborhood,” said Holosko.
One of Pereira’s friends in the community was Harris Healy, owner of Logos Bookstore on York Avenue. Starting in 2006, Pereira worked as a part-time employee for several years, helping out when independent filmmakers would use Logos as a setting for their movies. When he published books of his work in 2020 – “New York in TOON” and “IN TOON TOO” – Logos was the setting for his book launch.
“Peter was quite the character,” said Healy. “He had so many things going on at once. He was interested in physics – as well as artistic things.” Healy recalled a time when a deli across York Avenue received too many pumpkins for the holiday season. “Peter painted nice Halloween decorations on some of the pumpkins, so the store owner had two kinds of pumpkins to offer – the decorated ones and the plain ones.”
Though family and friends knew Pereira had been ill for some time, his colleagues at Straus News had no clue. His emails to editors were always cheerful and encouraging. “Have a magical day and weekend!” he once wrote. “Still a bit off,” read another message, “but am an optimist!” One Toon came with the note: “Reflections of our great city.”
“Peter’s art was special because he was special,” said David Noonan, former deputy editor of Straus News Manhattan. “He saw the world, and New York City, with a magic eye. His generous spirit was present in every human moment he captured in his drawings for Our Town.”
Just two weeks before his own death, Pereira sent a more somber email. “My Dad (Dr. Gerard Pereira) passed this morning struggling several months after a stroke. He was a gifted scientist in diabetes research and became a good friend.”
Ever the creator, Pereira added the following: “I wrote these thoughts as the hour neared.”
Last rites for Dad this morning
Body washed and attired.
Somewhere special to go to today.
Sis and Mom look on him as the Body that is to leave the Earthly Station idles peacefully and
Painlessly on the train.
Transition in spirit and calm of body await passage to another dimension.
I looked on from’ down here at the French Cafe...
I snapped a photograph and saw
The outline of a heart amid the trees and that was wow and I teased the song of sparrows from the mourning rains that filled the air and filled my heart ... angel tweets and song.
Sing along ... sing along
A GoFundMe account has been set up for a scholarship in Peter Pereira’s name at the High School of Art and Design in Harlem in conjunction with Dick Blick Art Supplies. It will be called the Peter G. Pereira Scholarship for Toons.