Moran Art Studio was a favorite of tourists and locals who stared at bones under glass and admired paintings and prints that capture the flora, fauna and history of the Mississippi Coast. |
Joe Moran, a Biloxi boatbuilder-turned-artist, opened a studio in the 1960s and moved it in 1970 to the Davis family homestead of his wife, Dorothy. The structure, originally a 1920s house and coffee warehouse, was near the south end of Porter Avenue, a location that served well as a studio-home.
A burial mound found there became an archaeological curiosity. And even the Smithsonian Institution took note of Moran’s artistic skills — which seem to run in the family, as a grandfather was noted art potter George Ohr.
After his 1999 death, Moran’s family continued to frame and sell art, including prints of his popular pen and inks and new work by two of his children, Tommy and Mary. Another, Cindy Moran Williams, specialized in framing.
As Katrina approached, the family readied the studio, preparing it “as if it was a Camille, when the shop sustained two feet of water,” said Williams. But there was little time and a full studio. Katrina took everything they didn’t.
Some of Moran’s originals were found 1 1 /2 blocks away. Losses include two of the family favorites, a night shrimping scene and the portrait of his wife. A George Ohr pot was found broken in two.
Family and friends scoured the area for Moran family bits and pieces.
“It is so good to see customers and get a hug,” said Williams. “They say ‘You are part of Biloxi, you must come back.’ We want to rebuild but we don’t know if it will be possible, especially in the same location.
“Tommy and Mary will keep painting and we want to move forward.”