Cathy Von Rohr

On Moving to the Beginning of the World

Some life-altering decisions come from the most unexpected places, yielding equally unexpected outcomes. For example, why would a successful 28-year-old woman living in New York City, making a living designing automobiles, decide to move to Majahuitas, a secluded beach south of Puerto Vallarta devoid of roads, let alone motor vehicles, and live there for most of the next three decades? “Well, it was 1967,” answered artist Cathy Von Rohr during a recent visit to her home studio in Emiliano Zapata. “New York City in the sixties was no place for a woman (living alone). Someone had just built a fire outside the door of my five-story walk-up apartment. When the police came and said, ‘Why don’t you get a dog?’ I knew it was time to go.”

Needless to say, it wasn’t quite that simple. Originally from Toledo, OH, she had graduated from Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute three years prior and was freelancing as a graphic and exhibit designer. As such, Von Rohr couldn’t resist fellow designer Pamela Waters’ invitation to visit Mexico’s Pacific Coast.

Once in Puerto Vallarta, they sought out friends’ acquaintance Nevon Seay Von Rohr, a retired California businessman who had settled in the virtually unknown Majahuitas. A connection between him and Cathy was immediately established, and so began a life of transformation for her, in which she blossomed as a visual artist. “I could look out from Majahuitas at night, and at that time there were no lights around the bay. So, whatever I saw around me was the same as it was when the Earth was made. That’s the way I felt,” she recalls.