By Theresa Java
Leon Dermer is a global traveler and one of his many fine specialties is bronze. For 18 years, he’s owned and operated Captain’s Imports in Key Largo and its mission is to carry only high-quality, one-of-a-kind bronze sculptures. The mega-store houses pottery, hand crafted tiles, marble and onyx pedestals, blown glass, and bronze art sculptures – lots of them. There are 450 pieces to be exact.
His bronze art sculptures are elegant and elaborately detailed. His collection is diverse, ranging from sailfish to children at play and wildlife. Every single one of the 450 bronze art pieces were delicately hand-crafted by fine artists from all around the world. Some are painted, some patina, and they’re all protected with Dermer’s protective sealant. A special trade secret proprietary to Dermer seals the bronze, making it “extremely saltwater tolerant and will hold up forever.” He guarantees everything he sells.
Connie Krueger is the store manager and has been working with Dermer for 14 years. She said that the store has made lots of improvements through the years. “Leon’s able to adapt and grow and make things better, even throughout the recession,” said Krueger. She also said that she’s keenly aware of the “wow” factor spoken in every language from foreign visitors to the store.
Anything thought of or dreamed of, Dermer can cast in bronze. He can make anything. Dermer has more than 100 artists from all over the world in his contact database. All of the artists create totally unique pieces exclusively for him.
After retiring as a fishing captain, Dermer took some time to travel and that is when he first envisioned being a bronze art collector. He wanted something different. He, alongside his wife Jenifer, originally opened a pottery shop but couldn’t get insured. Every time a hurricane came by, they had to bring all the pottery inside, which took too many man-hours. This is when his bronze vision came to fruition.
Picture this: A bronze casted seaplane – in extreme detail, being caught in midair by a kraken octopus with water gently spouting out of the plane propeller. To date, it is the largest piece Dermer had been commissioned to make. It stands 8 feet wide by 7 feet tall. It took him a year and a half to make. Dermer said he’s also made fun pieces of wives’ heads on mermaids. He’s been given old high-school photos to be cast 3-dimensionally and he makes it work.
This time of the year, off-season, Dermer is negotiable on prices. He’s often willing to take offers. If he’s not there, Krue ger is there to help. Captain’s Imports is at MM 99 bayside in Key Largo, open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. everyday. It offers plenty of one-of-a-kind art pieces for every budget.