Moran Family Finds Way To Share Artwork

For generations, the name Moran has been associated with art in Biloxi. The late Joe Moran was well known for his paintings of boats and seashore scenes.

Hurricane Katrina may have destroyed the "Moran Art Studio", but the storm hasn't stopped the family from sharing its artwork with others.

"Somebody found one of our pictures all the way behind Mary Mahoney's," said artist Mary Moran, as she surveyed the damage that was once her family's art studio.

Katrina swept away the art and left behind a pile of bricks where Moran's studio stood.

"And of course with this hurricane, it wiped us to the slab. It totally leveled us. I mean it's just unbelievable," she said.

The homestead-turned-studio housed several generations of artists. Though some of the art was saved, much was lost to the storm sturge.

"We had thousands of prints. And most all the time we took all the originals out and this is the one time we didn't get all the originals," said Mary Moran.

Tommy Moran's original footprints in concrete withstood the storm. He recalls making the marks in 1953.

"My footprints are still there. They've been there for 52 years through all the hurricanes. 'Cause I got my behind tore up for stepping in his fresh concrete," he recalled, laughing.

This time, Katrina did the tearing up, leveling a structure which took just two feet of water in Camille.

"First thing I thought of was all the work my father put into it. I helped him lay just about every brick in this place. Like I say, I was here from day one when we had converted it from a home to a studio. And it kind of breaks your heart," Tommy Moran said.

That heartache won't stop the Morans from creating and sharing their art. They've found a temporary home in "cyberspace".

Joe Moran's grandson is already selling post-Katrina lighthouse prints on the Internet.

"That little bit of sunlight happened to break behind the clouds. And it made him feel like there is hope you know," said Joe Moran's daughter, Cindy.

The nearby lighthouse symbolizes hope for the coast and hope for the Moran family.

"Anyway, we'll be back, one way or the other. Either in cyberspace or concrete and mortar," said Tommy Moran.

By Steve Phillips