Joseph Bellacera was born in Oakland, California. Although he lived in such diverse places as Montana, Oklahoma, New York, and Boston, he mainly grew up in a small-town atmosphere in Northern California. He studied art at the Massachusetts College of Art and received an MA degree at Humboldt State University and an MFA degree at the University of California Santa Barbara.

Views of the Pacific Ocean, deserts of the southwest, aerial views of agricultural fields, ancient walls and mosaics from Europe and Asia, and intimate patterns of nature found in his garden all combine to inspire Bellacera. In his luminous abstract and landscape paintings radiant forms emerge and dissolve to evoke feelings of transcendence. In addition to acrylics and oils, he uses materials such as clay, wood putty, cement, and resins, often treated with fire and water. Bellacera comments, "I use the alchemy of color and light to create the experience of seeing something, as if for the first time, before we define, name and categorize it. In this way, through painting, the mystery and awe of discovery and creation is continuously renewed." The most profound artistic influences on Bellacera's work have been that of JMW Turner's emotional and atmospheric seascapes from the early 19th century; Kandinsky's early 20th century spiritual abstract improvisations; and the more recent work of James Turrell, a Southwest installation artist who works with light.

Joseph Bellacera has exhibited regularly since 1989. His artwork is in many private and corporate collections throughout the United States.