Look What They’ve Done to Your Pear, Milton Glaser! by
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Prompted By Pet Peeves

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Lynn Truss who wrote Eats,  Shoots and Leaves: the Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation  is a woman after my own heart.   She wishes for a ‘grammar police force’  that would hunt down and arrest merchants with ungrammatical signs on their storefronts and others who abuse the King’s English.

I share her peeve and have another one as well –  I wish for a ‘tacky police force’,   and I’d send them to East 86th Street to rescue the pear!

In the 1980s the gifted graphic artist Milton Glaser designed a wonderful sculpted pale green pear to be hung on the facade of the Grand Union supermarket on East 86th Street in Yorkville,  my Manhattan neighborhood.

The prolific artist died recently at age 91,  but if you hadn’t known his name,  you certainly know his art –  Milton Glaser created the iconic  “I ❤️ NY” logo,   the psychedelic Bob Dylan album cover,  the clever cover art for the legendary Underground Gourmet NY restaurant guide, and the “ads” on TV’s Mad Men,  among hundreds or probably thousands of other images and designs.

But now look what they’ve done to his pear!

A few years ago that neighborhood Grand Union became a Gristedes supermarket and I noticed the pear was repainted – it was now a more pear-ish  yellow –  as if it had ripened!    So far,  so good!

Then Gristedes decided to sell fresh flowers,  also good.

But then an ugly bleacher-like structure was erected in front of the store to hold the flower bins which now abuts and dwarfs Glaser’s wonderful pear.  So now if you’re walking eastbound along 86th Street you can’t even see it.   And sadder still if you’re walking westbound you’ll see the once delightful pear hanging there looking forlorn and forgotten,  hemmed in by tacky paraphernalia.

I sure hope Milton Glaser never came uptown to Yorkville to buy his flowers.

Dana Susan Lehrman

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!
www.WorldThruBrownEyes.com

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Tags: Glaser Milton , Graphic Art

Comments

  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    You’ve written about this before, but thanks for expanding on it with all the wonderful other designs by Glaser. I can see why making the pear less visible would irritate you so much, Dana. He contributed iconic imagery for generations.

  2. Love that book, and a copy now sits on my bed table. Not surprisingly, Suzy told me about it.

    As for the pear, a very sad sight. Still, not knowing Glaser created it, if I happened upon it I would marvel at it, wondering who thought to put a massive pear in such an unlikely spot, and it would delight me in a perverse way. So maybe it’s okay, a least for now. And maybe someone will come to its rescue. But, please, no tacky police force…then we wouldn’t see any more of those amazing photos of people shopping at WalMart.

  3. Laurie Levy says:

    Oh, Dana, that’s one sad looking pear. Thanks for sharing the wonderful graphic art of Milton Glaser.

  4. Suzy says:

    I adore Lynne Truss’ book, and have recommended it to many people over the years. I didn’t know about Milton Glaser, but I do recognize the images you shared, so I’m happy to learn who he was. I love your idea of a tacky police force that would rescue the pear, but it’s still a great-looking pear. Just sad that it’s only visible from one direction.

  5. Thanx Bebe, since my Pear observations the Gristedes has closed and the pear has indeed been rescued and I hope it’s back in the safe hands of Milton Glazer’s estate.

    A developer plans to erect yet another high-rise building on the site – – in what is already the most densely populated residential neighborhood in the city. Altho now with Covid I think the plans are in limbo, and of course I’d rather have the Gristedes with it’s wonderful pear!

  6. Khati Hendry says:

    Like Suzy, I recognize the art but didn’t know who the artist was–thanks for including all the great pictures. What a talent. And that pear deserves much better!

  7. John Shutkin says:

    We Retro-ists are certainly a group with a lot of collective grammar peeves. That’s hardly surprising, of course, for such literate folks as us. But I love your primary focus here on the genius of Milton Glaser. And thank you for sharing some of his most iconic works with us.

    In fact, my then-wife and I lived on 86th Street near Yorkville Ave. right out of law school, so I know (and often shopped) that grocery store in its Grand Union days. However, we moved out of the neighborhood in 1980 before Glaser’s pear was erected, so we missed both enjoying it and mourning its current eclipse. But oh, the humanity!

  8. Marian says:

    Loved all the images of Milton Glaser, Dana, what a shame about the pear. I believe he and my mother knew each other at art school at Cooper Union, so I always enjoy seeing his work.

  9. Marian says:

    She majored in textile design and worked in that area for several years after graduating. She did so many artistic things, including painting, stained glass, ceramics, and the like.

  10. Brava! You turned a prompt that for most of us didn’t go very deep into a multi-faceted discussion of aesthetics, urban design, urban history, sociology, and personal memoir. Wonderfully illustrated as well.

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