Gather, a new gallery in Columbia City started by Jenn Jones, is about sharing the creative impulse in all its many forms. In January a show called "100 Dresses" will spotlight the creations of Los Angeles-based artist Kumiko Ishida, who turned salvaged textiles into exquisite miniature dresses for her young granddaughter — and then kept...

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When Jenn Jones opened her gallery Gather in Columbia City last June, the idea was to spotlight creativity of all sorts. In November, that meant having a display of Jeremy Bert’s reclaimed neon signage lighting up the place. This month (no surprise) it’s a selection of artist-designed objects, geared to holiday gift giving.

I’m always curious about what kind of person would have the guts to open an art gallery — an uncertain kind of business to get started, even in the best of times.

Well, Jones’ business card gives one possible answer: After her name it says, simply, “Visionary.”

A producer of advertising photo shoots by trade, Jones is a Spokane native who graduated with a degree in painting from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She moved to Seattle in 1994. She says she hasn’t kept up with the cutting edge of the art scene and doesn’t have many high-power contacts: Her idea for Gather is simply “sharing what inspires.”

What caught my attention during a recent chat with Jones is the unusual exhibition she has planned for January — an irresistible show with a generous heart called “One Hundred Dresses.” It began with a grandmother’s urge to make clothing for her tiny granddaughter.

Los Angeles artist Kumiko Ishida’s daughter Sanae Ishida, a Seattle graphic artist, had a daughter in 2006 and named her after her grandmother. Grandmother Kumiko began salvaging textiles and recycling them into exquisite miniature dresses for her little namesake. As she stitched one dress after another — each unique and delicately inventive — her creativity got away from her. Before she knew it, she’d pieced together hundreds of little dresses, many outgrown by her granddaughter before they were ever worn. What to do?

The two women came to Jones with the idea of giving 100 of them away to charity. After brainstorming, they came up with a better plan: Why not auction them and give the money to a good cause? Proceeds, they decided, will go to the Boys & Girls Club on Martin Luther King Way and the Food Bank on Rainier Avenue South. Any dresses that aren’t sold (which I can’t imagine) will be given to a charity for needy children.

Originally from Tokyo, Kumiko practiced art in Germany and New York before moving to Los Angeles. In addition to her very prolific sewing, she paints and gardens every day.

You can preview the dresses and meet the artists at a reception beginning 2 p.m. Jan 10. Winners will be announced Feb. 8. To track bidding, visit

Sheila Farr: