In his youth, Joel studied painting with Polish artist Leo Cizes and later, during his teens, at New York’s Art Students League.
In 1968, he and his wife Betty opened the Exposure Gallery, New York’s first photography gallery since Stieglitz’s An American Place of the 1930's. From 1968 – 1973 Exposure showed Joel’s work along with the work of many other well known photographers. Joel's photographs from that period were painted over with bleaches, dyes, and toners to appear mutilated or decomposing. See this work here.
In 1970 Joel and his wife, Betty, moved from Manhattan to Berkeley California, and began crafting pictures with pressed flowers. The UC Berkeley Art Museum sold Joel’s & Betty's Oshibana and and so did scores of galleries throughout coastal California.
In the 1980s Joel learned to use computers to blend photography with painting. He spent the next 35 years painting with light and boundless imagination, crafting his inner landscapes in new and unimaginable ways.