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New York City pianist composes piece for Kelowna artist’s painting

A pianist based in New York City performed a piece in concert that he composed after coming across an abstract painting created by a Kelowna woman.

Debby Merkel received an Instagram message from Margin Alexander in November saying he loved her painting, titled ‘Seaside.’

<who> Photo Contributed </who> Seaside

Alexander invited Merkel to send him an image of her painting along with a short bio and a photo of herself to be featured in concert.

“Of course my first thought was, ‘Is this real? Is this a scam?’” she told KelownaNow.

After some Googling, Merkel got in touch with an artist in Spain who had been featured in one of Alexander’s prior concerts.

Within an hour, the artist responded by saying, “He’s for real.”

On the evening of Dec. 1, 2022, Merkel watched Alexander critique her painting and proceed to play the piece he composed specifically for her art.

“This painting evokes so much music out of me,” Alexander expressed to the audience. “It’s a brilliant work.”

As he played, the image of Seaside was projected onto the wall, along with Merkel’s photograph.

“It was just beautiful, absolutely beautiful,” she said.

<who> Photo Contributed </who> Debby Merkel

Alexander travels around the world performing compositions he writes for paintings, featuring approximately 10 at a time.

“Basically, he sees the painting and it stirs something in him, and it’s really interesting because it’s almost like when he speaks, he’s intuitively feeling in that moment what that painting means to you,” Merkel explained.

“It’s quite incredible.”

The Kelowna woman also said Alexander chooses different emotions for each art piece.

“It isn’t just a stock critique about the colours, it’s all about the feeling and sense of emotions.”

The concert is not the only place Merkel’s art has been featured.

Until the end of February, Merkel’s paintings are being showcased in an exhibition at the Innovation Centre.

Additionally, Merkel has wearable art available online.

Merkel is part of the Federation of Canadian Artists, the Kelowna Palette Club and The Edge Collective.

For more information about the Kelowna abstract artist, visit

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