Margie Crisp is an artist and writer. Her love of birds, rivers, and conservation our evident in her work which includes painting, printmaking and books about Texas Rivers.
She earned a BFA from the University of Texas at Austin. She and her husband, artist William B. Montgomery, live in Elgin.
1. Why did you move to Elgin?
Bill and I moved to Elgin in 1992. We were in Austin living and working in a duplex and we both needed more studio space. We naturally gravitated towards Bastrop County since I had family out here (my sister Frances Sharp has Youngs’ Prairie Dairy, a Grade A raw goat milk dairy) and Bill is from east Texas and I’m from Louisiana. We were driving back from Arizona and made a list of everything we wanted: 15+ acres, big trees, ponds, barn, bathtub big enough for two, house that didn’t need remodeling, screen porch, and a big black dog. We were driving near my sister’s house a couple weeks later and saw a for sale sign. I called and the realtor read off a list that included nearly everything on our list. The first time we visited the house, a big black dog came running up to greet us—T-dog belonged to the tenants and ended up staying with us when we bought the house. So we got everything we’d dreamed of (except a screen porch).
2. What compels you to spend time creating?
Mental health. Really, if I don’t create—whether it is painting, drawing, cooking, or writing—I get a little wacko and depressed. It keeps me sane. It isn’t always easy, I believe that creativity comes from a place of honesty and self-awareness. If I’m working on something that brings up grief or a sense of loss, I have to balance it with work that brings joy and hope.
3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.
Three things? Okay, I’ve learned that most of us have more in common than we realize and if we can reach those common issues, the rest can fall away.
The second thing I’ve learned is that farmers and ranchers hold the future of conservation. The lands and ecosystems we need to conserve to save migratory birds, pollinators, and other creatures is privately owned. If we don’t find a way to collaborate and find common ground, we will all lose out. And if this pandemic has taught me one thing, it is that my friends are the most important thing in the world. Even more so than chocolate.
Oh, and John James Audubon loved to eat birds (every kind of bird from sparrows to whooping cranes), bragged about shooting birds, and was, in addition to being a fantastic artist and naturalist, kind of a jerk.
4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?
I’m reading a series by a Texas author Miles Arceneaux who is actually three guys writing together. The mysteries all take place on the Texas coast and are entirely enjoyable escapism. For serious stuff I spend my days reading reports, studies, and historical information about migratory birds for a book I’m working on. While I’m writing I listen to a lot of Baroque chamber music. When I’m making art, my go-to is modern bluegrass and folk music.
5. Cake or Pie?
Cake or pie? Do I have to choose? Can I have a little slice of both? Please?