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Honorary Presidency Sam Singer

Each year, the Parcours des Mondes highlights a major figure from the tribal art field who is implicated in the diffusion of knowledge about Non-Western Arts.

Who is Sam Singer?

Sam Singer, President, Singer Associates Public Relations San Francisco

One of the world’s leading communications and political strategists, Sam Singer is the founder of the internationally recognized corporate communications agency, Singer Associates Public Relations in San Francisco. The firm is the winner of the “Public Affairs Agency of the Year,” “Public Relations Agency of the Year,” and a finalist for the “Global Public Relations Agency of the Year.”  

The Guardian newspaper in London called Mr. Singer a “master of crisis communications” and Gama Television in Latin America called his agency “one of the most influential in America.” The news media has dubbed Mr. Singer “The Fixer” and “Top Gun for Hire” for his ability to create successful strategies for high stake communication and political issues.

He began his career as a newspaper reporter covering politics and government. Later, he served as a Washington D.C. television and radio correspondent covering Congress for CBS News.

Mr. Singer served as Communications Director for a successful U.S. Senate campaign in the State of Nevada, as Manager for the first woman elected to the Nevada State Supreme Court, and as Manager for the Democratic California Attorney General campaign.

Mr. Singer is the son of two famous UC-Berkeley professors and authors, Dr. Margaret T. Singer, professor of psychology, and Dr. Jerome R. Singer, professor of physics. A native of Berkeley, Calif., he is married to Sharon Rollins Singer. The couple has four sons who are actively involved in media, politics, technology, and education.

Mr. Singer credits his love of art premiers/tribal arts to growing up in Berkeley during the 1960s.  The city, famous for its University of California campus, is home to professors and students from around the World. As a young boy, his parents traveled the world lecturing and brought back treasures to share. Some of his mother’s students were active buyers of tribal arts from New Guinea and Africa, which left a lasting impression on the young man.

Also during that time Peace Corps workers were returning to the San Francisco Bay Area from exotic travels. They brought back artifacts that fascinated him.  The Singer family neighbor was an anthropology professor at UC-Berkeley of Belgian heritage whose home was filled with Japanese theater masks, tonsu chests, and tribal artifacts from other cultures. He drove a Citroën DS, a car that made a lasting stylistic and design impression.

Most importantly though to Mr. Singer’s passion for tribal art is the love of his life, Sharon Rollins Singer.  Sharon was a collector of tribal arts and textiles before meeting Sam and took him to his first show, Caskey Lees San Francisco Textile and Tribal Art Show.  Sam was hooked.

Both Sam and Sharon were raised in academic families in the Bay Area, and the roots of their interest in tribal art spring from their respective upbringings. Sharon remembers a year-long family trip to Latin America as her father, a professor at Stanford University, was finishing a dissertation on the economics of the area. Although she was young, she was deeply impressed with the antiquity of what she saw there, particularly in Peru.

Today, the couple are passionate about tribal art. They travel to museums, collections, dealer galleries and auction houses. They also began to travel the world to attend tribal art shows.  They missed the very first Parcours des Mondes, but attended the second edition and have been coming every year with the exception of the Covid pandemic.

For many years they would start, as they jokingly called it, “The Tribal Art Grand Slam Circuit,” attending San Francisco, New York, Brussels, and Parcours des Mondes shows. 

Their home in the San Francisco Bay Area is filled with sculpture, figures, masks, clubs and artifacts from Oceania, the Himalayas, and Indonesia. 

The Singer’s interest in the tribal art community goes well beyond the art itself. They’re just as interested in the people, both the ones who created the art in distant lands and times, and the ones in the West who buy it, sell it, and appreciate it today. Their circle of friends is in large part made up of individuals from the latter group, and one of their fondest pastimes is to have friends and dealers who are knowledgeable and truly enthusiastic about tribal art over to enjoy the collection and engage in stimulating dialog about it.

The couple’s involvement in communications and their love of tribal art is intertwined.  The agency’s communications strategies are informed by the importance of tribal art.  Sam Singer believes tribal art is iconic and that communications strategies and messaging must also be iconic if they are to be successful and resonate.

“Look at the power of a shield, a figure, a mask,” Singer says.  “Whomever saw that piece in a tribal culture knew instantly the message and meaning behind the design.  If modern day communications are to be successful, they have that same instantaneous recognition and understanding.” 

“I am deeply grateful to have been selected as the Honorary President of Parcours des Mondes in 2022,” Singer said. “I hope to be an evangelist for Parcours des Mondes and art premiers and turn on more people to the power, elegance, integrity, and life that emanates from tribal arts.”


 

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