Published in the July, 2013 online issue of fete Greenville. Unfortunately, the article is no longer available on the fete Greenville website but can be found on SCRIBD by clicking the highlighted link above. I also typed the text and included it below, as the original copy is reproduced and difficult to read. The photos used in the original article are included so you have the opportunity to see some of Mr. Moncini’s most iconic works.
Born and raised outside Pisa, Italy, Renato Moncini by his own admission didn’t receive a great deal of formal education past high school. But when you hear the story of his life, you realize that in many cases, especially his, God given talent trumps anything from a book or classroom.
After graduating high school he attended a local vocational school and subsequently went to work for the Piaggio factory in Pontadera, Italy, welding Vespa scooters. His interest in both continues to this day. Driving in for my interview I passed through gorgeous hand welded iron gates; while parked on the back patio was a pristine blue Vespa.
At that time mandatory military service was required so Moncini joined the Italian Air Force as an engineer. Arriving in the United States in the late 1950’s as part of a cooperative air defense program between the two countries, he met and married the love of his life Faye, and decided to settle in the States after fulfilling his military obligations.
Moncini initially worked for a government contractor before being hired by NASA in 1965 as a full-time illustrator based at the Marshall Space Center in Huntsville, Alabama. He told me, “I could barely speak English…and am so blessed for the position I was able to obtain.” Moncini’s 14 years at NASA occurred during the height of our nation’s space program, “We were on the edge of technology.” During this time he created thousands of full-color illustrations of space, shuttles, rocker launches, technological machinery and space landscapes, as well as rush jobs for emergencies like the famous, “Houston, we have a problem” Apollo 13 mission in 1970. Moncini illustrated all the Cape Canaveral rocket launches and many of his works, to this day, hang in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.
Relocating to Greenville to work for Fluor Daniel, Moncini retired in 1993 and now keeps himself busy with everything from gardening; he grows all his own herbs; to cooking; I left with a bag full of wonderful homemade raisin cashew biscotti; home improvements and of course drawing and painting.
On July 5th the T.L. Norris Gallery presents Renato Moncini: The First Artist of Space Exhibit. The opening meet the artist reception will be held that evening from 5:30 to 9:00PM. Come marvel over some of America’s most iconic historical illustrations of the space race and meet in person the gentleman responsible for bringing them to life. The entire exhibit will be open to the public through July 31st.
What a Compliment!
8/2013 I’ve had the pleasure of doing this professionally for many years now and while I’ve gotten many compliments over those years, this is one of the most heartfelt words of praise I’ve ever received. Renato Moncini is a dear sweet humble gentleman who was a pleasure to interview and whose work captured NASA and its many space shuttle launches during the height of America’s space race. If you missed reading the piece when it was originally published in Fete Greenville, here is the Renato Moncini story.
“Dear Jay Thank you for the link to FETE, I went to Staple and print copies directly from the internet, came out beuatiful, I’m using these for a comprehensive booklet to sent to my relatives here and Italy. I was able to read for the first time the article of Lee Ann, I need to tell her that was the best i ever had , was precise and well written. I have a print foe both of you genius. if you can, come by, thanks so much.”
I would love to hear your comments after reading about this amazing and interesting man.