Painting frenzy prompts Bam Margera to open his gates to appreciative crowd
By Kathleen Brady Shea, Managing Editor, The Times
The nattily-dressed government leader looked a tad out of place in the mainly heavy-metaled, multi-pierced crowd. But the presence of Chester County Commissioners’ Chairman Terence Farrell typified the unconventionality of a Tuesday night gathering in Pocopson Township.
The hastily-organized event, billed as an art party, took place in the “skatepark,” an out building at the residence of Brandon “Bam” Margera. Famous for the “Jackass” show on MTV, the popular stuntman said he only invited 30 or 40 people – true if one failed to count the Tweet that went out to his million followers.
The Margera homestead, known as “Castle Bam,” can normally be accessed only with a security code, which was changed for the day and then publicized so anyone could enter. But visitors did not even have to remember the number: The gates opened wide at 6 p.m. and stayed that way until about 9:30 p.m., accommodating a steady stream of spectators.
Asked about the possible safety risks, the fledgling artist – who was slugged with a baseball bat in 2010 and has since been stalked – shrugged. “I’m not letting anyone in the house,” he said. “What can they do out here?”
What they did was primarily gawk at hundreds of paintings – most by Margera and some by West Chester artist John Hannafin – drink beer, socialize, and marvel at their proximity to someone whose gross-out hijinks have maximized his gross income.
“I can’t imagine another celebrity opening his home like this,” said Tommy Duess, a West Chester University student from Yardley. His high-school friend, John Gabbidon, who also attends West Chester, agreed. “This was awesome,” he said.
Hannafin said he met Margera about a year ago when Margera held his first art show in Philadelphia. Hannafin wanted to attend because Margera had previously purchased one of Hannafin’s paintings. The two hit it off; they have since exhibited work together and sometimes paint side-by-side.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Hannafin of Tuesday’s show. “I really had no idea, but it’s turned out pretty well.” He said Margera, who just returned from an Australian tour with his rock band – which boasts an unprintable name and raunchy lyrics to match – had amassed an art surplus.
Margera, sporting a paint-splattered hoodie, shades, multiple tattoos, and lots of metal, said he been working so feverishly on his art that he needed to sell some of it. He said his art endeavors had turned his kitchen into a giant Jackson Pollock-like spectacle.
Since Margera was only home for three days, the event came together fast. On Wednesday, Margera said he would get back on the bus with his bandmates and head to Texas. Latecomers to the art show on Tuesday got a preview of the show during a raucous jam session that included Margera’s gravelly vocals and his brother, Jess, on drums.
“It’s not music,” insisted April Margera, who has waged a largely unsuccessful longtime effort to inject some order into her son’s chaos. On Tuesday night, she served as hostess, bookkeeper, and bouncer, although the latter services were not needed.
“I have to restrain myself from trying to clean up when I come here,” she said. “It’s like Michael Jackson’s place – without the children.” Indeed, the grounds are adorned with dozens of oversized props, many of them large animals, used in past stunts.
“I remember skiing with the gorilla in Colorado,” said April Margera, referring to the giant black ape standing sentry near the front gate.
As the evening wound down a little after 9 p.m., April Margera estimated that about 50 of her son’s paintings had sold, most, but not all, at the lower end of a price range that started at $50 and topped $2,000. He also scored some cash by raiding his closet: His gently-worn t-shirts were a hot commodity.
Hannafin, whose work ranged from $250 to $2,400, said he had sold one painting and was sending two others home with people to make sure they would work in their space. One of the potential sales reinforced the evening’s oddities: a depiction of St. Agnes Catholic Church in West Chester.
Asked to assess the display, Farrell, who said he attended because he’s on Hannafin’s email list, was succinct and non-committal: “It’s very interesting.”