"The Avenue Concept brings art to the people. Anybody living, working, and visiting Providence can enjoy these public artworks."
Francisco Lovera was elected to serve as the Chair of The Avenue Concept’s Board of Directors for 2020. As he transitions into his new leadership role within our organization, we thought we’d sit down with him to get his perspective on Providence, public art, and the future of The Avenue Concept. If you’d like to learn more about Francisco, see his bio at the bottom of this page.
How did you first become acquainted with The Avenue Concept?
About 2 years ago, I became aware of The Avenue Concept (TAC) as an organization working to develop public art in public places with private funding. I had noticed the artwork that was on display throughout the city and was fascinated to learn that part of this beautification of Providence was due to TAC. I received an invitation to be part of the board by our immediate past chair, Mike Ritz, and met with Yarrow Thorne, the executive director and founder, at the headquarters in South Providence. Despite being an engineer, I have always had a passion for art and social justice. Having been a docent at the RISD museum a few years ago, and being attuned to the Providence art scene though my wife, who is an artist, I loved the idea of being part of an organization that is bringing public art to our city.
What value do you see in this work?
TAC brings art to the people. Anybody living, working, and visiting Providence can enjoy these public artworks regardless of their social, economic, or any other background. Being an engineer who often works with other engineers, planners and public officials to improve the transportation infrastructure, I see the work that TAC does as a supplement to make the streets not only functional, but also aesthetically pleasing. I love the idea of sharing the artwork with anyone walking, biking, or driving through the streets of Providence. Many of the artists that have worked with TAC have helped to put Providence and Rhode Island the world map and, conversely, these works are used to promote the city and the state as a tourist destination. The murals not only are made by artists from different backgrounds, but also portray people that represent the diversity of Providence.
What are your goals as board chair?
I am looking forward to working with an excellent group of individuals, each of us providing our skillset to strengthen TAC and supporting the vision of Yarrow Thorne Our first priorities are to support TAC’s growth in the short and long term, including funding, but also strengthening TAC’s relations with stakeholders in the communities where we have public art, at the neighborhood, local, and state levels.
What do you see in the near future for The Avenue Concept?
TAC is calling the attention of places outside of Providence. I can foresee TAC assisting more communities in developing their public art programs. I can also see us partnering with local artists while continuing to work with more world renowned artists. The future is open for opportunities to expand our public art beyond downtown and throughout our city.
TAC has an outstanding staff that works diligently to bring art that surprises us when we turn a corner or reach an intersection within our city. I see TAC working with more public and private entities installing more sculptures, covering more walls with murals, wrapping more transit buses, and attracting more visitors to our city and state. I envision the future of TAC as an organization that further enhances the cultural, background, and skillset diversity of the board and the artists whose work is showcased.
Francisco Lovera is a 15-year resident of the City of Providence, where he lives with his wife Amy and two daughters.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City, where we grew up. While in college, he performed in several plays as part of the School of Engineering’s drama club. In 1998, he participated in the US-Mexico Chamber of Commerce Buen Vecino Program working as an intern for American Science and Engineering in Billerica, MA. He met his wife during this internship.
After obtaining his degree, in 2003, he moved to Littleton, MA to marry his fiancé. He began his professional career working for District 3 of the Massachusetts Highway Department Massachusetts Department of Transportation now) in Worcester. During this time in Littleton, he co-founded a Spanish conversation group at the local library, which remains active to date.
In 2005, he moved to Providence with his wife as she began her master’s program at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Shortly after, he joined the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, where he held several responsibilities such as traffic engineering, managing the state’s Highway Safety Programs (NHTSA), and public outreach, including to community-based organizations. During his early years at RIDOT, Mr. Lovera worked as a docent in the RISD Museum leading tours in Spanish. He also used his spare time to teach conversational Spanish to community members.
Mr. Lovera is currently a Project Manager at McMahon Associates.
He previously served as Vice-Chair of Operations of The Avenue Concept’ Board of Directors, and is part of the Board of Trustees of the International Charter School.