Root Journey Vinkovci, Croatia Summer 2016
I just returned home after a most exciting journey to my native country and town, Vinkovci, Croatia. It was really closing a circle. My son, Yaron Merhav and my brother, Dan Gross, joined me so we were a family, however small. The occasion was the opening of my sculpture park that I donated to the town of Vinkovci, Croatia, in memory of the Gross family who had settled in Vinkovci in the mid-19th century.
My great grandfather, Igjiat Gross was the founder of the Ferolim factory that manufactured iron ovens and agricultural tools.
Around 200 workers were employed in the factory and the Gross family contributed a great deal to the development of Vinkovci as well as to the whole area.
Several days before my departure, I was informed that the city of Vinkovci had decided to reward me with a gold medal and a certificate of merit for my achievements in installing outdoor sculptures all over the world and for my donation to the town of Vinkovci. I was indeed honored and equally surprised.
My aim was to realize my dream, to acknowledge and remember my family and their enormous activity and achievements in this area. Now everybody in Vinkovci and the surroundings have learned about my family and appreciate them for what they had done.
They are going to name the street and the Sculpture Park in their name and it is already inside the tourist brochure.
The day we arrived I gave a lecture about my work. It was very much appreciated and many people attended, even people from Zagreb and the surrounding areas. The next day, in the morning, there was the celebration of the "day of Vinkovci" held in a huge hall full of people, including politicians. Even I had to give a short speech after receiving the awards.
I was very excited to receive so much appreciation and honor from the people and the city where I was born which I had to leave at the age of five when Yugoslavia surrendered to Germany in 1941.
In the late afternoon there was the opening of the Gross Memorial Sculpture Park on the Bosut riverside. I was overwhelmed when all the people, family and friends, came to share this happiness with me and the realization of an ancient dream.
The farewell dinner party was both tasty and touching, with all of my dear friends around an exquisite table. I have not enough words to thank those dear friends and the city of Vinkovci for their generous and fantastic hospitality.
With great love, respect and appreciation,