Albuquerque Journal North - March 26 2003
PAULA HOCKS AKA PAULA J. STUMP, PAULA JEANNE ROHRER, New Mexico book artist, poet and photographer, died Feb. 18 in Albuquerque. She was born in Muskogee, Okla., to Malcolm and Eileen (Magruder) Neathery on Oct. 14, 1916. She attended high school in El Paso, Texas, after her parents' divorce in 1929, but dropped out due to the Depression. In 1933, she moved to Denver with her mother and two siblings. She vowed to educate herself through self-imposed assignments; intensive reading, deeply rooted in the classics and philosophy; and by auditing university classes in Denver during the early 1940s. She was an artist in a true and holistic sense. Art was her life, and she lived her life as art, from the environments she created (fascination with modern architecture and furniture) to her graceful appearance (contemporary but understated dress, always in black, brown and beige) she exuded an ambiance and style that extended into all of her creative work. But, for a woman of her generation, an intense dedication to art meant many sacrifices, including a traditional family lifestyle. Active for more than 60 years, she first worked in the medium of figurative wood and stone sculpture in Denver. When she joined the 1940s art scene in La Jolla, Calif., living in the area until 1972, she experimented with abstract sculpture and painting, and was an art columnist for the La Jolla Light newspaper from 1946-48. She married German painter Fred Hocks in 1952, whose name she used professionally for the rest of her life. She was a poet, deeply interested in philosophy and religion; and, while a secretary at the University in San Diego in the 1960s, she corresponded with Thomas Merton, even typing his last two manuscripts. Her love of architecture was captured in her unique photography, further enhanced by montage and a technique she called the gold print. She was passionate about travel, particularly to the European cities of London and Barcelona; as well as frequent trips to Mexico. In the mid-1970s, her interests merged into one medium: the handmade artist's book. By then residing in Santa Fe, and for the following 20 years, she produced limited editions and unique books under her own imprint, The Running Women Press. Using the latest electrostatic or Xerox printing techniques for reproduction, with content largely built on the classics, surrealism and Dadaism, the works became a collage of image and photography, combined with handwritten, typed or cut-out sections of printed text, poetry and essays. The editions were traditionally bound by local bookbinders (Virginia Gannon Westray or Priscilla Spitler). Or she hand-stitched them herself, and often altered existing commercial-bound structures by cutting and pasting image and text, to create original artists' books. Her artist books and photographs have been featured in shows internationally and are included in numerous collections such as the Tate Gallery and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London; the Whitney Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York; contemporary book art collections at the Getty Museum in Santa Monica Calif., and the Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive in Miami, Fla.; as well as special collections at the University of Iowa and the Bridwell Library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Locally, extensive collections of Paula's work can be found at the Jonson Gallery and Zimmerman Library at the Center for Southwest Research at the University of New Mexico; and at the Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe, where her books were recently featured in the exhibition, 'IDEA Photographic: After Modernism.' She was preceded in death by her sister, Barbara (Neathery) Hollenbeck; and brother, Robert Neathery. She is survived by her son and daughter-in-law, Doug and Bonnie Rohrer; her daughter, Meril Jean Price; and many other relatives and friends. A memorial will be held at 2 p.m. at La Posada de Albuquerque hotel, Eulalia Room.