About the Artist
Little is known about Alfonso Moran’s life. He painted landscapes and was legendary as a professional gambler. He was well known in Gifford, Florida, for his expertise in playing pool and billiards. He also played poker, but it was his skill at shooting pool that gave him his foremost identity. This expertise seemed to distinguish him more than his painting. Some say he stopped painting to concentrate on his gambling career. He was one of the older Highwaymen and one of the first to die.
Alfonso Moran was born in Vero Beach; his mother was Annie Colley and his father was absent, although he no doubt took his name. He grew up with two bothers and a sister. He went to Gifford High School, although it isn’t clear if he graduated. He joined the army and fought in the Korean War. He knew Alfred Hair and sometimes hung out with him. However, Alfred’s wife Doretha says he probably learned to paint from Harold Newton. Like several other Highwaymen, he started his career as a painter by making frames.
Willie Reagan described Alfonso as a handsome man, reaching the height of 6’3” or more, who dressed in a snappy white suit. He had a kind face with dimples and the skill to charm anyone he met. He traveled up and down the East Coast playing pool. Although he ran with a questionable crowd, he seems to have been a calm and controlled man. He wasn’t violent and he didn’t look for trouble. People enjoyed watching him play pool and billiards, as they marveled at his skill. He commanded a crowd. According to Reagan, he didn’t have a car; he rode with other people when he needed to get from place to place.
Those who knew him say he would not have worked the fields, as it simply wasn’t in his character to do that. He had other jobs during his lifetime. He trained as a barber at Ronnie’s Barber Shop in Gifford, and he sometimes painted houses.
Alfonso didn’t always live in Florida, perhaps because his pool playing took him to varying places and wanted to live where the games were active. We know that he lived in Jonesboro, Georgia, at one time, and then in the late 1980s, he lived in Decatur, Georgia.
Although the Gifford painters knew Alfonso, they didn’t necessarily keep his company, as he didn’t represent the goals their parents had for them. Willie Regan says he kept his distance from Alfonso because he didn’t want to get into gambling; his goal was to make his parents proud, and besides, he simply didn’t have time. He was always working or studying for school.
Late in his life, Alfonso had a stroke was unable to talk. As he aged, he lost both his legs. He died in 2003, in Vero Beach, of complications from diabetes.
According to Al Black, Alfonso didn’t paint that many paintings because he was so good at making money from shooting pool. Consequently his paintings are harder to find than most of the other Highwaymen. The few confirmed images we have of his work show bold colors and compositions that fill the canvas. His skies are active and his paint is heavily applied. He played with various renditions of light and sometimes added people in his settings. Alfonso Moran had talent, but based on the numbers of paintings that have turned up in the last few decades, he was far more drawn to a life of playing pool than painting.