Meet “Roxie,” a perky pugilist working to knock out overdoses. “Roxie” was created by Boston-based artist Merk Aveli, who dedicated this work as a tribute to friends and family members who lost their battle with addition. The Plymouth County Drug Abuse Task Force sponsored and funded the billboard.
Chairs of the Drug Abuse Task Force, Plymouth County DA Timothy J. Cruz and Plymouth County Sheriff Joseph McDonald Jr., along with Brockton Mayor Robert Sullivan gathered in front of “Roxie,” located at 2020 Main Street in Brockton to unveil the artwork.
“The Plymouth County Drug Abuse Task Force is proud to support this project,” DA Cruz said. “Merk Aveli used the memory of his friend lost to an overdose, as his inspiration for Roxie. Now, Merk’s vision has come to life on this billboard for every motorist driving down Main Street to see. The message is clear, knockout opioid addiction, but I hope it is also a reminder for people to have hope that the resources and prevention efforts that we have dedicated to ending this dreaded disease, will have success.”
“Roxie is our way of punching back at the scourge of drug overdoses,” said Sheriff Joseph McDonald. “Artist Merk Aveli brilliantly captured our commitment in keeping up this fight.”
Brockton Mayor Robert Sullivan said, “The City of Champions has a long history of tackling and solving difficult problems. We need to come together as a City to take on the prevention of overdoses. As Mayor, I am committed to tackling this problem in every way I can. Thank you to the Plymouth County Drug Task Force and the artists in recovery for helping to raise awareness on this issue through this billboard.”
Aveli, who is known for his use of striking imagery and bold color, was commissioned for this project by Susie Lordi of 24 Hr. Power, Inc. Lordi, who is also in recovery, started the organization to reduce stigma, promote awareness of the opioid crisis, and create fun, creative sober activities that engage people, and their families, in recovery. Taking his work to new levels every year, Aveli is on the cutting edge of the new hybrid of street and technological art.
“My passion for this project was fueled by my desire to memorialize Keith “Mise” Miner, by finishing the work he started,” Aveli said. “I am also honoring another close friend, Craig “Sens” Hanson, and my twin cousins who have all passed away from addiction.”
Miner, an artist in recovery himself, began the overdose prevention awareness project with Lordi. For over 26 years, Miner was a world renowned graffiti artist, whose artwork is displayed all over the United States and internationally in London, Copenhagen, Berlin and Toronto. Miner was in recovery for nine years, with more than two years of consecutive sobriety, before he tragically lost his battle with addiction last month.
“24 Hr. Power is incredibly blessed to work with Merk Aveli,” Lordi said. “After Keith passed away, Merk did not hesitate to take on this project. Keith Miner was a humble and generous man. He was 24 Hr. Power’s lead artist on many projects here in the Commonwealth, and we miss him. I will be forever grateful to DA Cruz and Sheriff McDonald for supporting our artists in recovery.”