Isabel's Fashion Gallery - not for the faint of heart

It is next to impossible not to have a visceral reaction, either to the animated gallery owner or the ebullience of her inventory. The combination art and clothing gallery at Marina Park is an absolute mirror of Isabel - just Isabel - unique, philosophical and opinionated.

"My mother was a philosophy teacher. She died when I was young," Isabel says. "But she taught me respect and to live in the moment. You need to live right here, right now."

The Spaniard is fluent in English (in addition to many other languages), and spent the last 15 years inNew York running a successful boutique. She has been in Kirkland for just over a year.

"When I got here I saw MP3 players and all the technology craziness," she says. So she seized the opportunity and designed functional clothing; she points to a special pocket in the belt loop for an amplifier for performers and musicians. (See Isabel's right hip in photo.)

The high-energy designer is bursting with creative energy. Whenever she travels, she looks for fabric. "I design and make everything in my house,"

she says. "And I still have a studio in New York." She says she used to have fashion shows on the street in New York City's trendy East Village. Eventually, she would like to do the same in Kirkland.

The gallery's artist is Surya A. Gaertner, who last month featured oil and pastel paintings of trees. In March, Gaertner's show will be "Portraits, Retrospections and Life Impressions." (Gaertner said that the image below, "Madrona Grove," is painted from memory.)

Isabel's featured artist rotation is bi-monthly: The featured artist for March and April is South Rose Hill artist Lyla Jacobsen, displaying representational, landscapes, still life and figurative work in oil and watercolor. The artist reception is March 8, 6-9 p.m.

Isabel's Fashion Gallery is at 30 Lake Shore Plaza, Suite C, 889-4762,

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