Briana Heaney Published

‘A House In The Clouds’ Documentary Highlights Life Of LGBTQ Artist In West Virginia

Man with white hair and glasses sits at an artist desk. He is looking toward the camera. There are paint brushes on the foreground of the photo, and paintings in the background.
Robert Singleton is known for his use of shadows and light in his ethereal paints of the sky.
Douglas Imbrogno

Douglas Imbrogno and Bobby Messer’s Film “A House In The Clouds: The Artistic Life of Robert Singleton” is a documentary about the life of Robert Singleton — a gay man who grew up in Appalachia and survived loss, discrimination, and trauma to ultimately become an award-winning artist. Imbrogno said it’s not a story of a superhuman, but a story of a life well lived, despite hardships. 

“This creative soul has been, has been battered, and had many losses in his life has found his way to equilibrium. And I describe him as a jovial soul,” Imbrogno said. 

Imbrogno says it’s important that these kinds of West Virginia stories are told, because often there is a lot of bad news coming out of the state. 

“I think that’s quite an inspirational thing to share, because so much of the news is filled with bad actors and human beings behaving badly. Here’s an example of how life can be well lived,” he said. 

Imbrogno and Messer said the film also comments on the attempts to brand trans youth as damaged souls with parallels in the film to what many trans people face today. Imbrogno says he wants to take viewers to the beauty Singleton reflects in his painting and his home in the mountains of West Virginia. 

“I want them to feel the mountains. I want them to be up in the clouds with Robert’s artwork, to see his development as an artist from landscapes to abstraction to these spiritual ethereal paintings that he’s doing these days,” said Imbrogno. 

The film premieres at 7 p.m. on Sunday at the Juliet Art Museum inside The Clay Center in Charleston. Tickets are available at the Clay Center box office. There are two showings in October in Thomas, West Virginia. Streaming is not yet available for the film.