The First Artist of Space comes to Saluda, June 23

Press release from Judy Thompson:

Saluda will be the site on June 23 of a fundraiser, ART FOR PRESERVATION, to raise money to preserve the 1891 historic Church of the Transfiguration. The Church building is a fine example of “Carpenter Gothic” architecture and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The gala event will feature eight artists creating their art during the two-hour event. The featured artist is Greenville, SC resident Renato Moncini, famed as the First Artist of Space. Mr. Moncini illustrated and painted the images of NASA’s moon exploration program. A native of Italy, he was a child during World War II. He and his mother were rescued during the war by four American GI’s and there began his love affair with the United States. He went to school in Italy and then came to the US where he worked for NASA as an illustrator and prepared all of the drawings that showed the early moon explorations.

Mr. Moncini came to Saluda in March and presented a beautiful watercolor of Saluda’s sister city, Carunchio, Italy, to the mayor of Carunchio who was visiting Saluda. Mr. Moncini was such an inspiration at the March dinner honoring the Carunchio mayor, that he was invited to return to Saluda to be the featured artist at the ART FOR PRESERVATION fundraiser.

Mr. Moncini is coming to Saluda on the 21st as a houseguest of one of Saluda’s citizens and will be around downtown Saluda on the 21, 22 and 23rd of June selecting painting venues and painting works for the fundraiser. He will be at the event on Saturday, June 23rd and will be painting on site. He is bringing prints of a number of his works to donate to the fundraising effort in addition to the new work he is creating.

Other artists of note will be participating in the event including Richard Oversmith, Rich Nelson, Jim Carson, Suzanne Doyle, Sa Smith, Scott Cardais, and Michael Teal. In addition to the works they prepare on site at the event, these and other artists are hanging work for purchase with the commission going to the endowment fund for the historic church. There will also be an extensive silent auction with more artwork, antiques, crystal, vacation get-a-ways, jewelry and other fine items. All proceeds from the auction go to the Endowment Fund to reserve the historic church.

Food and drink will be included in the fundraiser cost of $60, $50 of which qualifies as a charitable donation. The event is from 6-8 p.m., June 23, at the Saluda Center, 64 Greenville Street in Saluda. Tickets are $60 and are available by contacting 828-749-9740 or

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