Bam Margera: Culture from a ‘Jackass’

Bam Margera — reality TV personality, ex-professional skateboarder, former “Jackass” co-host and infamous West Chester resident — is making his entry into the gallery art world.

And he’s chosen Philadelphia for his debut.

“Bam Margera & Friends,” which opened Saturday evening at Center City’s James Oliver Gallery, features watercolors by Margera alongside professional photographers Geoff “Red Mohawk” Blake, Ryan Gee and Justin Muir.

Margera revealed his artistic motivations in a recent interview with ESPN. “I’d say mostly I paint hot chicks,” he said. “But other than that, I’ve painted my buddy who’s fresh out of jail and I have so many funny quotes from him.”

Gallery owner James Oliver was quick to downplay the uncultured language. “That’s just how he approaches the media,” Oliver said. “I think his style is to say off-the-wall stuff to keep things loose and entertaining. We’re a recognized and reputable gallery, and we’re willing to show him even though he doesn’t have a huge track record as a visual artist.”

Most of the paintings that have been released to the press feature writing scrawled over crudely drawn female nudes, including one that appears to be a reference to Paris Hilton. Others do indeed utilize quotes from a recent convict: “Mom, it’s me Novak! I’m fresh out of jail. Where’s my needle?”

“Over the past two years, I’ll show up at his house at 10 a.m., and he’s already out on the porch painting five different paintings at one time,” said Blake. “So he’s taking it a lot more seriously.”

“He’s completely untrained,” Blake continued. “One hundred percent self-taught … I think this is just the start. It’s going to be a little bit of a traveling circus. It’s all based around him. His work kind of opened this up for the rest of us.”

Asked if it bothered him that the least experienced artist is at the top of the bill, Blake unveiled some of the gang’s characteristic levity. “Dude, I could give a s–, man. It’s all a bunch of friends getting together to have fun.”

If you go

The “Bam Margera & Friends” show opened Saturday and runs through April 21 at the James Oliver Gallery, 723 Chestnut St., fourth floor. The gallery will be open noon to 8 p.m. daily.

The first public exhibition by Margera, according to the gallery’s website, “explores edgy, satirical and contemporary punk imagery on topics such as social reform, sex, religion and law.”

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