Murray Kaough: The Five Question Interview

Murray Kaough’s paintings, leatherwork and “Texas Toile” fabric are inspired by nature, particularly West Texas’ Big Bend area. She proclaims it her soul country. She loves to travel and can’t wait until the pandemic ends and it’s safe to travel outside the U.S. She lives with her husband on a few acres south of Elgin with a few dogs, cats, birds and chickens. Her kids are grown now but went to school in Elgin.

1. Why did you move to the Elgin area? 

We moved to the Colorado River bottom, 11 miles south of Elgin, about 30 years ago! Amazing, right? It was truly dark sky then and so much more uninhabited. I remember how hard it used to be to find our road at night, as there were no lights around. In those days you did NOT just zip out for a pizza! I need open space and feel like I can think better if there aren’t too many people crowded around all the time. Of course this does not include dogs, animals, trees, birds….they are welcome in large numbers at all times.

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

Busy hands are happy hands, I always say!  My creative outlets are not only a true source of happiness, but also a necessary component in maintaining my good health and pleasant disposition :). I’m not really good at sitting around and genuinely prefer to be doing something productive. Painting is my first love, leatherwork is my side hustle, and gardening is another form of creative expression that requires a lot of watering and occasionally produces items I can actually eat. I also write and am co-founder of WEAVE (Women Engaged Artfully in Vital Expression), a women’s group started in 2019 to support women’s creative expression and to advance the integration of the divine feminine worldwide.

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

This is really a hard one, as I’m learning new things all the time! Curiosity is the fountain of youth! I guess I would say: 

Persistence and discipline are the keys to success.  I know it sounds dull! Make a space, set regular studio hours, and just keep hammering away at it until you produce results that please you. But try to hammer in a playful, easy-does it sort of way, where you can enjoy the process as much as the end result.

Keep stepping out of your comfort zone to keep it fresh. Cultivate wonder to feed your inspiration! Reach across mediums to try something you don’t usually work in. Maybe take a class, look at magazines, go to a museum, follow other makers on instagram, look at things upside down…PLAY!

Follow your interests. You just never know where you will end up.

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

I’ve really enjoyed making nature spirit charms lately, under my Mode Less Travelled line – painted leather butterflies and feathers, imbued with good juju and meant as blessings in the world. I’m eager to start a new canvas! For some reason, I’ve been obsessed with the scarlet ibis lately, and want to work one into a painting. Also jackrabbits. And the moon…

5. Cake or Pie?

Hmmm. I guess I’m generally more of a savory than sweets person… Maybe pecan pie. But not too gooey in the center, and with toasted pecans. Are you sure you shouldn’t list cookies as a third option? I’m craving cardamom cookies lately.


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Molly Alexander: The Five Question Interview

Molly Alexander and her partner Gary Luedecke opened the doors at The Owl Wine Bar & Home Goods Store in late 2012 and it quickly became a gathering place for Elginites and visitors alike. After such a wonderful response from the community they opened G&M Drygoods just down Main Street. Both shops are mainstays in our community and Elgin’s Main Street. Molly lives in downtowm Elgin with her two cats Moby and Jacques.

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

I moved from Dallas, TX to Elgin in June, 1990 to become Elgin’s Main Street Manager.  I fell in love with the community immediately and am proud to call it my home.

2.  What compelled you to create a business in Elgin?

Everyone in town wanted a healthy, vibrant downtown full or retail shops and restaurants.  In 2012 Gary and I had what we thought was a great retail business idea and we believed change needed to start with us so we decided to open The Owl.

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

  • Being outdoors brings me great joy and is part of my mental and physical well-being.  I have learned how to paddle board and adore being on the water! We also bought 10 acres of land near Elgin and I love, love, love walking among the pine and oak trees, listening and watching the birds, coyotes and other wildlife.
  • It’s time to finish our home projects so we can enjoy some downtime. Gary and I have spent the past 8 years building The Owl and G&M DRGYOODS. In our free time we have worked renovating our home in Galveston. It is time to finish our Galveston house so we can enjoy visiting the island and all it has to offer!
  • I miss my closest friends!  With covid-19 I miss hanging with my closest friends, getting hugs and catching up in person.

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

I just finished Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson, a great book about the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. I am currently watching Man in the High Castle on Prime and I am listening to some of my favorite records – Dina Washington, Cat Stevens and Miles Davis.  When it comes to making – Gary and I are building a downstairs apartment in our Galveston home, building an outdoor shower at our new property and I am working to finish remodeling my building in Elgin.

5. Cake or Pie?

I have celiac disease so either if it is gluten-free!  Give me a great flourless chocolate cake, or a tart lemon or cherry pie! 

The Owl Wine Bar & Home Goods + G&M Dry Goods
@elginowlstore
@gmdrygoods


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Karen Bernstein: The Five Question Interview

Karen Bernstein is producer/director with a long list of biographical documentaries of arts icons and cultural events to her name. Her work includes documentaries for American Masters and Independent Lens, and her latest film I’m Gonna Make You Love Me was included in SXSW2020 virtual festival earlier this year.

She lives in historic downtown Elgin with her son Joseph, five dogs, and takes care of nine cats.

The Open Room. Photo by Veronica Ortuño

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

I moved to Elgin three years ago because of Margo Sawyer, the artist who has been in Elgin for close to twenty years.  She sold me what I know call The Open Room at 117 Central.  I had known Margo since moving to Austin from NYC in 2000.  A good friend had visited me in Austin and I had brought her to visit Margo since they’d both been at graduate school together in the 1980s. Margo mentioned that the space next to hers’ was up for rent with an eye to sell.  I had just ended a love relationship in Austin and had to move out, so Elgin seemed like the perfect distance from old memories.  That same day that my friend and I visited Margo Sawyer three (3) years ago, we went to the Depot Museum and met Anne.  She sealed the deal on moving to Elgin.  I found her to be so smart and the history of the area was compelling.  By the time we actually moved into The Open Room, she had passed away, and that’s continued to sadden me.

Guests at our film series at The Open Room during Elgin Art Studio Tour. Photo by Veronica Ortuño

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

I have no choice!  I wish there were a button to decrease the amount of creative impulses and increase the pragmatic ones.

Screengrab from Etsy.com: “No Place Like Here – Marfa, TX”

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

  1. Stop eating so much bacon and slow down on salt 
  2. Drink coconut water every day and stay hydrated
  3. Adobe Creative Cloud

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

Too much to list here in a coherent way but the top tier of creative projects is as follows:  finding a distributor for my documentary feature film, i’m gonna make you love me, finishing three (3) short videos on the history of Elgin, finishing the short film about my mother who died with Alzheimer’s disease (La vie en Rose), finishing all 16 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, listen to opera more often, learn to play piano, figure out how to show films free of charge on the outside of my building.

Screengrab from “Ella Fitzgerald – Something to Live For

5. Cake or Pie?

Definitely pie — apple, please

Bernsteindocumentary.com
The Open Room


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