Dolores Moran, 64, city artist, playwright and `great bohemian'

February 21, 2005|By Childs Walker | Childs Walker,SUN STAFF

Dolores Moran, a longtime artist and playwright, died Tuesday of breast cancer at Stella Maris Hospice in Timonium. The Baltimore resident was 64.

Her paintings were displayed and her plays performed in Baltimore, Washington and New York. She started painted at an early age, showing an affinity for expressionism that later manifested itself in a series of works depicting carousel horses.

"My wife says they look just like [Vincent] Van Gogh," said Mrs. Moran's brother, Jack Delaney of Franktown, Colo. "I'm looking at one right now, and to me, they always looked like [Paul] Gauguin. She was a very, very talented girl."

Mrs. Moran was also known for her protest of the church bells that chimed hundreds of times a day at St. John's Episcopal Church across the street from her Waverly home. Mrs. Moran complained repeatedly to state and local officials, who ordered the bells muffled but never stopped them.

So Mrs. Moran fought back through painting, producing satirical looks at what masterworks by Salvador Dali, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Van Gogh might have looked like had those painters been bothered by the bells. Her take on Dali's The Persistence of Memory showed melted bells rather than the artist's oozing clocks.

"I decided to try humor as opposed to moving in the direction of being shrill," she wrote in a letter quoted in an article in The Sun. "Since my creative spurt was abruptly curtailed [by the church's] 6 a.m. window-shaking wake-up call, I wondered what the works of famous artists would have been like had their lives suddenly become dominated by bells."

Baltimore filmmaker John Waters, an acquaintance from the arts community, remembered the bell paintings fondly. "It was a great, great show, and she was right," he said.

Mrs. Moran turned to writing plays in the last 15 years, producing comic works that sometimes touched on the darkest aspects of life, her brother said. He recalled a scene of a man burying his baby that "left you holding your breath for a few minutes after you left the theater."

Her plays were performed in Baltimore and off Broadway.

Mrs. Moran was born Dolores Delaney and grew up in the Waverly neighborhood where she lived most of her life. She inherited painting talent from her mother, Winifred, who produced portraits for friends and family but never sold her work.

She graduated from Seton High School in 1957 and from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1961. She later obtained master's degrees in psychology from the University of Maryland and in playwriting from the Johns Hopkins University.

During her final year at the institute, she married fellow artist Charles Moran, who predeceased her.

She was an activist for animal rights and for battered women through the House of Ruth, her brother said. She also loved the noir films of Humphrey Bogart and Robert Mitchum. Mr. Waters described her as a "great bohemian who never left Baltimore."

Friends and family held a memorial gathering yesterday, and her brother said he plans to organize a comprehensive show of her art.

In addition to her brother, Mrs. Moran is survived by four nieces, two nephews, three grandnieces and a grandnephew.

More obituaries next page

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.