New Wave artists are chosen “based on the quality of their technique/artistic abilities, and how creatively they approached the aquatic theme,” says developer Mel Barrett.

Monterey painter and multimedia artist Mel Barrett saw few opportunities on the Peninsula for emerging artists like herself, so she created one.

She gathered six friends, all coincidentally women in their 20s (including Weekly contributor Victoria Stöcker), and founded New Wave, a juried exhibition of aquatic-themed work by emerging artists from Monterey and Santa Cruz counties.

Though the mediums span photography, oil painting and multimedia, and the effort culls from an energetic generation from two counties, that aquatic theme seems confining. There’s the wordplay, sure, but why not open it up to whatever realm an artist is working in?

According to Barrett, “Water has long held a tradition of inspiring artists. Plus, it gives it a cohesive theme to tie the works together.”

The show, comprised of 18 “developing” artists, opens June 18 at the Weekly’s Press Club. Artists include photographer Zach Weston of the famed Weston photography clan, sculptor Yves Goyatton, a member of the Carmel Art Association, and Mai Ryuno, who has shown at Green Chalk Contemporary in New Monterey.

Greg Classen has an oil painting in the show, of the curling crest of a wave called “Oahu Beach Break,” which suggests he might be into surfing. Beau Frank’s “Summer Heart” is a portrait with a beach-scape imposed, Magritte-like, where the face would be.

Aside from the variations on a theme, more variety should come out of the opening reception. Music will liven up the place: pianist Michael Martinez is the music director of the Center for Spiritual Living; Stevie Rae Stephens is a singer-songwriter with polished pop instincts; American Trashbird does jangly, crunchy, harmonic Americana.

One of the main attractions, though, should be the artists themselves. Six will speak on a panel moderated by the night’s host, Maddox Haberdasher.

Twenty-five percent of art sales help fund the Arts Council for Monterey County’s new LEAP (Local Emerging Artists Program) grant for emerging artists who have “no way to pay for the tools they need.”

New Wave, similarly, bestows money and prizes on the artists deemed the best three of show, and the public can vote for their favorite artist who will get a solo show with the Arts Council. It’s a dash of democracy and competition. We’re all in that mode by now.

NEW WAVE opens 5-9pm Saturday (6pm panel discussion) at The Press Club, 1123 Fremont Blvd., Seaside. $5 suggested donation. 601-7430, www.arts4mc.org/new-wave

Walter Ryce has been an arts writer, calendar editor, culture columnist, sometime photographer, and one-time web content coordinator for the Monterey County Weekly. He began working at the paper, which is based in his hometown of Seaside, in 2007.

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