Artist in Marathon studio
Artist Ganine Derleth works on an original painting at her Marathon studio. KRISTEN LIVENGOOD/Keys Weekly

Ganine Derleth can light up just about any room with her smile, but it started lighting up ballrooms at a young age. The artist, who owns Giorgione Gallery in Gulfside Village in Marathon, grew up with four brothers and a mom who was a professional dancer. “I was going to dance,” she said. “Tap, toe, dig, heel, shuffle – what kid didn’t want to make noises like that?”

Before moving to Manhattan to dance in what could be considered one of the most famous dance lines in America, the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes, she was the youngest, shortest dancer on the Las Vegas strip, with a handwritten letter from Sheriff Ralph Lamb allowing her to be out past curfew.

Late one night, while dancing in a nightclub, she caught the eye of her now husband, Theo. “We were inseparable from that moment,” she said, taking a job with him just so she could see him again. “We said our vows on our fifth date. I knew he was the one the night I met him.”

Holding principal roles in Broadway shows like “A Chorus Line,” “42nd Street” and “The Cotton Club,” she listens to music in the background of her studio. “I just love this song, it’s called ‘Hang On Little Tomato,’” she says, humming along. The walls of the half dance studio/half art gallery are hung with her and Theo’s dancing accomplishments throughout the years. She is especially proud of the Marathon locals who have gone on to win national dancing competitions.

Her art is filled with scenes of places she loves, things that move her, and things that she finds beautiful. “I’ve been creating art since I was little,” she said, selling two custom pieces during the interview. Her specialties include oil paintings with brush techniques and knife skills.

Her forte lately has been restoration projects since Hurricane Irma. “A lot of people lost pictures and artwork from the storm,” she said. “I especially like restoration projects.” Derleth has been in the Keys for 14 years, and knows the pain of hurricane damage, losing her home in Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

She can also work from old photos or portraits, and enjoys painting family homes and commissioned pieces.

Derleth has several projects going at a time, since oil sometimes needs time in between coats to dry. She sees art in everything, from flower pots to even the ceramic pelicans that sit on her neighbor’s dock. “They needed a coat of paint,” she said of the now almost lifelike dock decorations.

“Some husbands lift weights, mine lifts blondes.” – Ganine Derleth.

As a member of the Florida Key Council of the Arts and former vice chairperson, Derleth has always been a supporter of all things artsy. The annual Connections Project is happening now where 400 free 6×6 blank canvases are given to community members to create their own unique piece of art for a gigantic mosaic. Canvases are due by Jan. 26 and can be reserved at keysarts.com.

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