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Today’s edition is sponsored by Creative Arts Workshop.
1 Food. Arts. People. Events.
Brian Monahan and one of his paintings.
101 2.0
Brian Monahan is omnivorous. As an artist, he’s a video editor, drawer, painter and sculptor. As an entrepreneur and gallerist, Monahan has pursued a far-reaching vision for 101 Art Threads, the expansive non-traditional exhibition space he opened two years ago at 118 Court Street.

101 aimed to buck more traditional gallery structures. Artists would pay $50 a month to show their work—ranging from photography to iPad paintings—and took home all the profits for any work sold. “We wanted to step back and be a conduit between artists and their audience,” Monahan says. This model was intended to let viewers become “true patrons” of the artists they admired, without the gallery taking a sizable cut.
Creative Arts Workshop. Week-long programs for ages 4 through 17 run June 26 – August 18. Enroll now! Extended Day available. Learn more →
But the model, as intriguing as it was, faltered, and now Monahan and the enterprise are changing directions. The doors on Court Street are closing, and 101’s most successful facet—community paint nights—will begin rotating through small venues around New Haven.

Monahan, who was vibrantly dressed in contrast to the winter freeze outside, has come to believe the original model was “almost overly positive,” and was cause for suspicion in an “economy where everyone needs to get something for something. For us, we wondered how we could give something and continue to grow.”

The paint nights—where both seasoned painters and novices are welcome to come and work on a new canvas for an evening—have only become more popular, and are now the main focus. “I want to take the thing that works and make it work better,” he says. Inspired by the boom in paint night popularity, Monahan tweaked the formula to better fit 101’s experimental edge. “Rather than everyone painting the same thing… everybody’s doing something different. It’s less paint-by-numbers and more ‘let’s help you create something that’s uniquely yours.’ So it completely eliminates the ‘mine doesn’t look right’ mentality,” he says. “It’s about you focusing on you, and getting yourself across.”

The events are a boon for Monahan’s own artistic impulses as well. “How can I make art while maintaining a living?,” a question with which Monahan has long grappled, has found an unlikely answer in the remainders of 101’s paint nights. He uses leftover paint and palettes to create work for his new project, Fragment Abstractions. These pieces, with their riotous color combinations and deep texture, range in size from tiny squares to wall-spanning canvases.

Finding art and opportunity wherever possible is the primary goal of 101, Monahan says, and he thinks the new mobile version of paint night will do just that. “We’re hoping to spread people into different spaces. We’re taking this crowd of people we’ve developed and moving that around to restaurants and small venues that need an influx.” The idea is to become more fluid and focused on community—to leave gallery walls behind but maintain the “open, dynamic, inviting” atmosphere 101 began with.

“What I’ve learned is to never stay stuck on something because you think it’s what it needs to be,” says Monahan. “Allow it to evolve to what it should be.”
Written and photographed by Sorrel Westbrook.

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101 Art Threads
Contact: (203) 397-6977 |
Creative Arts Workshop
Week-long programs for ages 4 to 17 run June 26 to August 18. Enroll now! Extended Day available.
Learn more →
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