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Hermann the German, a Pizza Parlor Painter by Way of the Wild West

Photos: Daniel Maurer

Hermann with muralsLaurie Gwen Shapiro Hermann at Bagel Cafe & Ray’s Pizza

At Bagel Café and Ray’s Pizza, on the corner of St. Marks Place and Third Avenue, a mural depicts nearly 25 scenes of the East Village. One panel features Telly Salavas in front of the Ninth Precinct stationhouse. Another depicts Deanna’s, a popular early-90s jazz club on East Seventh Street that catered to bebop lovers on a budget. The largest of them, running across the entire back wall, is an East Village cityscape watched over by the World Trade Center’s twin towers.

And then there’s the one that includes a tranquil scene in Tompkins Square Park, also in the early 90s, when the park was shedding its scars from the riots. The signature at the bottom right of the panel reads: H Platschka. Next to the autograph, strangely enough, is a phone number.

Call that number and Hermann Platschka will pick up. He calls himself Hermann the German. The artist, “76-years young,” recently accepted The Local’s invitation to tell the story of the murals.  Thickset, with a short-cropped beard, he arrived at the Bagel Cafe clad entirely in black, from his shoes to his beret to his black leather jacket to his black-framed glasses.

His tour started with the first panel he painted, of Gem Spa. “The East Village was a dangerous place then,” he said, pointing to a fair-haired night watchman standing outside the candy store: “The ladies’ favorite, a cop with movie-star looks. It was dicey then, and he was the law.” Read more…