photo by Aaron Soto

Artist of the Month: Cindy Dach

Written by Jackie Dishner Category: Arts Issue: August 2018

Changing Hands owner Cindy Dach “paints with string” in her embroidery art.

In the Valley, Cindy Dach is known most widely as co-founder of the legendary bookstore Changing Hands, with locations in Tempe and Phoenix. It may surprise people to learn that the Brooklyn native is also an artist.

Neither were careers she expected for herself. Dach, who studied marketing at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and earned a master’s degree in prose from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, had plans to write for a living. Instead, she opened bookstores in Arizona.

The art followed. She calls it “painting with string,” an ideal description of her charming works of contemporary embroidery. Her minimalist stitches on stretched canvas feature cactus, succulents, people in motion and whimsical neon monsters. The beauty is in the compositions’ empty backgrounds, which let viewers imagine the rest.

Inspired by images she sees on the street, in magazines and on Instagram, Dach sketches her interpretations on paper before taking out needle and thread. “Most embroiderers work on a hoop. I like to work directly on the framed canvas... for the immediate sense of gratification,” she says.

Prominent Valley artist and arts patron Beth Ames Swartz owns a piece, and Dach does commissions. A client favorite shows a pair of women, legs up in the air, sharing a bottle of wine. Girlfriends often buy them as gifts.

Dach also owns MADE art boutique on Roosevelt Row and is involved in community advocacy. Embroidery is what she does during down time – early in the morning and late at night.

“It’s the pause in between the rest of my life,” she says.

Find her embroidery art at MADE and online at madephx.com.