Skateboarding artist exudes long-distance impact

Kayak mishap makes ‘Bam’ Margera a no-show, but his art makes a splash

By Kathleen Brady Shea, Managing Editor,

Artist John Hannafin (center) celebrates the art opening with Bam Margera's parents, Phil and April Margera.

One of the West Chester Gallery Walk’s stars was a no-show last night, but the show didn’t suffer.

Instead of basking in the adulation of fans at the Chester County Historical Society, MTV celebrity Brandon “Bam” Margera  was recovering in an Oregon hospital from a close encounter with a waterfall. Friends said the Pocopson resident of  “Jackass” fame  survived the 100-foot drop in a kayak that was being filmed; however, when he landed, he ruptured an existing hernia.

“He really wanted to be here,” said his mother, April, in between seamlessly pouring wine, chatting with visitors, and posing for photos. “We had to talk him out of getting on a plane since it would have gone against the doctor’s orders.”

Were it not for another injury – to his heel – the creator of “CKY (Camp Kill Yourself)” videos would not have produced the body of paintings that led to his inclusion in the show, an opportunity that surfaced after a serendipitous meeting with West Chester artist John Hannafin.

Hannafin, a regular exhibitor at the Historical Society, said he heard Margera, who was temporarily out of commission for skateboarding, was exhibiting some artwork in Philadelphia. Hannafin went to the April opening, the pair learned they had much in common, and Hannafin agreed to share his Gallery Walk space with Margera and two of his professional photographer friends, Ryan Gee and Red Mohawk.

This Bam Margera painting whimsically states: "Andrew Wyeth, Don't Even Tryeth."

The result: An eclectic mix of styles that attracted a steady stream of spectators, ranging from those with silver-hair to those with silver-studded tongues.

“I see this as therapy,” said April Margera as she surveyed the display.

She said that her son has dabbled in art since he was a kid and that every painting has a story behind it. One hit so close to home that she had to buy it at the Philadelphia show. She said it featured the image of a telephone next to her son’s recurring response to her pleas that he call her: “If the phone don’t ring, it’s me.”

Brandon Novak, a fellow skateboarding star and longtime friend of Margera’s, said a portrait of himself that featured the citation he got for allegedly spitting at a bouncer took him by surprise. He said he was cleared of the charge and had forgotten about the paperwork until he saw it superimposed on the painting.

“There’s method to the madness,” he said of his friend’s creations.

Not everyone saw that. “Different is all I’ll say,” one woman grudgingly opined. But many were impressed.

“I like it,” said Bill Smith III of Downingtown. “There’s a thought behind it. I think he has real potential.”

Smith said he had long been a fan of Hannafin’s work but also enjoyed the provocative photographs of Gee and Mohawk. And he was not alone in chuckling at the painting that Margera’s father, Phil, proudly identified as his personal favorite. It depicts a handful of distressed faces with the words: “Andrew Wyeth, Don’t Even Tryeth.”

“If pictures could talk, these would scream,”  said Malcolm Johnstone as he viewed Margera’s work.

Johnstone, who heads the West Chester Business Improvement District, said he especially liked Margera’s color and vibrancy – and the size of the crowd, which he said was not a surprise.

“Every night’s a good night in West Chester,” he said.

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