Arts·Artspots

At 50, he quit engineering to become an artist; 25 years later, Canadians met him on Artspots

In 2006, the show visited light artist Bill Anhang, and his story continues. He's the star of Billsville, a recent film for CBC Short Docs.

Bill Anhang's story continues — the Montreal light artist featured in 2006 is the star of a recent CBC doc

At 50, Bill Anhang quit engineering to become an artist

4 years ago
Duration 1:11
A former electrical engineer, Bill Anhang quit his job at 50 and threw himself into art. CBC Artspots met him in 2006.

Name: Bill Anhang

Lives and works: Montreal

Artspots appearance: 2006

The story: For Bill Anhang, art isn't a hobby — it's a spiritual calling.

A former electrical engineer, Anhang quit his job at 50 and threw himself into art. And when the Artspots team visited his Montreal apartment — or Billsville, as he calls it — he'd been at it for 25 years, and the space was stuffed, floor to ceiling, with the results of his non-stop creative output.

I was designated an artist by a guru. He said, 'Bill, you're an artist.' I said [...] 'Can I do something, you know, profitable?- Bill Anhang on Artspots

Anhang's signature is electric light. He might weave a grid of LEDs behind a painting of a fractal pattern, for instance.

Bill Anhang appears on a 2006 episode of CBC's Artspots. (CBC)

And as he explains in the Artspots video, details like that have a spiritual message. They're reminders that God is "still there and on our side."

If it looks familiar...

Just last year, CBC Short Docs aired a film about Anhang, and filmmakers Maisie Jacobson and Josh Eisen caught up with the artist, who's now 86, at Billsville — which is even more crammed than ever.

Bill Anghang takes Manhattan. Scene from Billsville. (Nate Mosseau/CBC Short Docs)

The film introduces some of Anhang's friends, family and collaborators, but the main event is a trip to New York City, where a selection of his work was appearing at the American Folk Art Museum.

Want to catch up on his story?

Watch Billsville on CBC Short Docs.

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