Joel Singer, Artist

Joel Singer, Artist

Born in Montreal, Canada in 1948, it was at 12 that I first discovered the enchantment of image-making when my brother set up a black & white darkroom in our basement.  I never tired of the mysterious alchemy of images manifesting in chemical baths.

After several unhappy years in our family-owned furniture business, it was in an introductory ceramics class that I discovered the joy of creating beautiful things from mud; eventually, I returned to college majoring in fine arts and encountered the magic of cinema. Film quickly became my passion, and I began to dream of leaving Canada in order to leap into the great renaissance in avant-garde cinema afoot in the U.S.A.

My search for graduate schools began in 1973 when I had the good fortune to visit San Francisco and sit-in on a film history class taught by the poet/filmmaker James Broughton at the San Francisco Art Institute.  Instantly my life changed; I knew without question that James and San Francisco were it!  We spent the next 15 years in the Bay Area, sharing fully in art and life: we collaborated on seven films and I designed and handset several volumes of his poetry. My photo collages appear as cover art on several other volumes of his work.

In 1989 we moved to the Pacific Northwest, settling in Port Townsend, Washington where we spent the last decade of his life. I became part of an artist’s cooperative gallery and my own photographic collage work thrived.

From the woods of the Pacific Northwest I moved to Greenwich Village where I lived in the artist’s building “Westbeth” with the writer-anthropologist Tobias Schneebaum who had been a close friend of ours. I lived with Tobias for 4 years until he lost his battle with Parkinson’s Disease. At what turned out to be Toby’s last public reading, I met my current partner, a Brooklyn born psychiatrist with the Hindu name Nirgrantha who was building his dream house on the magical island of Bali.

Many years earlier, James and I had spent part of a sabbatical year in Bali, and I had always hoped to return.

For the past five years, Nirgrantha and I have been living full-time in the heart of Bali; after a 22-year hiatus, I have re-discovered the moving image, and have delighted in fashioning a dozen short films.



Joel Singer
Ubud, Bali