Amy Flesher has an infectious smile and unbridled passion for a life filled with color and hope. A step into her home is similar to a viewing of “The Brady Bunch” household. Her kitchen counter tops and cabinets are Pionite bittersweet: the same pantone as Carol Brady.
“I loved the way it looked on ‘The Brady Bunch,’” Flesher says about her kitchen. “I needed to pop this with Brady Bunch orange.”
She is an artist — owner of Hunky Dory Studio — but reluctant to embrace the fact that she is the real deal or to call herself one. Her midcentury modern house in Finneytown — which she shares with husband Tim Dutton, a motion picture sound engineer, and their three Siamese cats, Sid, Harry, and Iggy — was the couple’s second home restoration. Amy and Tim have honored its history by restoring many of the original elements, and both have their studios in the house.
Both forward-thinking artists — met in the 7th grade, reconnected later in life, and have been married since 2011 — envision a positive future: Tim’s is working to create a movie-making scene that provides opportunities for post-production to be “local” so that movies can be both made and completed in Cincinnati; and Amy’s is about using her artistic interpretation to focus on the world’s darkness with an equal emphasis on optimism.
Amy’s story is full of both.
Her journey to becoming an artist started with a horrible car crash in 2012. After her accident, she reevaluated her life and asked herself what she could do that meant something to her and how she should live her life.
Prior to the accident, Amy worked in social services and social work.
“It was such a serious car crash that I knew that life was short and tenuous, and I determined what I liked to do,” she says. “It was always making something, upcycling something, or a home improvement project. These were the things that made me excited.”
“I didn’t think that I was artistic,” she continues. “I have been making things my whole life for people [but] I was intimidated about going into a creative arts class.”
Still, she felt it was important to take the plunge.
“I started as an administrative job in social services in 1999 and was in senior management at the time of the crash,” she says. “I knew that I needed to change what I had to do for a living. I had to use a wheelchair or walker for more than six months. My whole world changed.”
She chuckles when asked about when she started “her business” and explains that her first sale was in 2012 in someone else’s space in Pendleton.
Other artists supported her dream.
“I met Terri Kern in a class, and she encouraged me,” Flesher says. “She is an amazing ceramic artist.”
During that class at Queen City Clay, she also met Nancy Hopkins. Both women asked her to bring some of her work to Nancy’s studio for a Final Friday in Pendleton.
“I took everything that I had made and did not know what to expect,” she explains. “I sold a little glass tile.”
She hasn’t forgotten the feeling she got when someone bought her art or the people who helped her along the way.
The Flesher-Dutton home aligns with Amy’s personal vision. It is very much a mixture of “high art,” fun pieces, IKEA, Target, original midcentury modern furniture, and animals. Amy is passionate about people and their pets and has created an art form to pay tribute to these relationships.
“I started to work in pets,” she says. “I have made pet-related gifts for years. We are a pet obsessed family.”
People can contact her and send pictures of their animals to be replicated on nightlights — which are her top seller — jewelry, coasters, ornaments, platters, and more.
While much of her glass and tile work includes photos of animals, some of it depicts her own fascination with darkness, often reflecting that we are each a blend of dark and light. Her color palate and “pop” is reminiscent of Andy Warhol — evocative of the contradictory world in which we live.
“The cute baby animals had appealed to me, but they were always geared towards nurseries,” she says. “I like Halloween and horror films but did not want goth art. My style is colorful and bright and cheerful and fun.”
“I love skulls and Halloween,” she continues. “I wanted to feel how I felt as a kid getting Halloween decorations. I did hot pink skulls or rats that are portrayed as interesting, beautiful animals. I started to make things that I wanted around me, and I discovered that I am not alone.”
Flesher was invited participate in shows and initially sold online. (She still does.) While her work is created for others, she also intuitively creates concepts.
The majority of her sales are wholesale, consignment or in other people’s retail shops. Locally she sells in Mica 12/v, Indigenous, and Redtree Gallery. Her work is also available on Etsy and she is launching her own ecommerce website.
She sells pieces at stores in Louisville, Columbus, Philadelphia, Denver, and Detroit and is working to ramp up production.
She often places local icons on her work that are reminiscent of the city in which her pieces are sold.
When she first started making things, as she was learning, she imagined placement for these objects.
“In the back of my head was that I wanted to make something for my house that I have not seen available in the places that I shop,” she says.
One example: A Christopher Walken nightlight staring you down in the bathroom. (One of her first pieces was a Vincent Price light.)
She focuses on beauty and art with a goal of leveraging happiness and believes that even during darker days, there are many reasons to not give up.
“When you can’t take it anymore, there are people doing good things, you have hope,” she says.
While Amy is focused on the future, she is also very much about bringing love and quality to each piece.
“By this time next year, I will be in bigger cities,” she says. “I know that my product is marketable.”