Jordan Griska, Grumman Greenhouse, Lenfest Plaza

Dear Guys,

              As a former firefighter (for seven active years) at Roslyn 500, and from a military family, I write to you today as the project manager of the sculpture,  Grumman Greenhouse, by artist Jordan Griska. I read some of your letters recently, and  I would like to share something you are missing… info!

 Firstly, this is a site specific sculpture. What that means is the artist was offered a tight space between two buildings to make a sculpture on an 18 foot platform. This was not a sculpture that existed and was then purchased for the space. This work was built to fit into the existing space, making it necessary to orient the plane in a position that fits between two buildings and also serves as an accessible greenhouse.  The nose of the plane naturally lends itself to much more available space than the tail.

Jordan Griska (an artist from Philadelphia in his twenties) is well known for re-purposing existing highly recognizable objects into something with a new possiblitiy or purpose. These objects are bent, origami’d, mechanized, or all of the above. Many times Griska completes the repurposed objects with a  brightly painted finish to look newly manufactured as his creation. You can see his works at  where the first image that pops up are his repurposed newspaper boxes, or honor boxes. These are mirrored objects, resembling the flotsam seen after natural disasters.

 This S2F however, is different. To Griska this plane is not just an object but something much farther beyond, to him it has a personality, a life. A former submarine bomber for the Navy, the S2F then fought fire in California, and then made its way to a run down outdoor storage compund in Alabama where it was shredded apart and stripped of all valuable parts. It was put up for sale on e-bay, with the owner declaring this was it’s last chance for sale before being scrapped. Griska was the only bidder.   It came up to Philadelphia on two truck trips, the final load arriving the same day that the tornadoes hit that same compound in Alabama the plane had been days before.Despite having missed the tornadoes it was clear this plane needed TLC, when it got here it was mangled, cut up, missing parts, windows burned and melted. 
Griska and a team of local community members restored the entire plane by hand. They called in military personel, airplane experts, commercial pilots, and private civilian pilots to come and look at the plane, give advice on what was missing, who had replacement parts, how to make it whole again. Each piece was hand crafted from aluminum, riveted in the same manner, and missing pieces donated from aviation enthusiasts in the neighborhood and far away who heard of the project through the grapevine. After months of restoration the plane was put into upright position and converted into a working greenhouse. The nose of the plane and the cargo doors in its belly open to reveal a growing gift to the community.  Food grown here is being harvested for low-income families by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.

It is in no way built to reference a crash. It fits into the allowed space and  continues the theme of  futuristic retrofitting of objects that Griska is so well known for. Since the plane in this orientation would obviously receive criticism for appearing to be in a crashed position Jordan spent time thinking what this means to his work. Is it significant? Is it a coincidence that matters?  “If a plane had been previously crashed on a current civilian property could a civilian use it for another purpose in it’s new state?” This is one of the questions the artist asked himself when approaching this site specific work. 

          Use your imagination, but keep in mind it’s positive purpose.

The plane has been repurposed, revitalized and is working to serve the American people again. Union guys, Firefighters, aviators, military generals and privates, and one ex Joint Cheif of Staff for a President have seen the plane at the studio on its journey back to life. They have all teared up, applauded, or been amazed at the intense work and devotion this artist has given to this airplane.

Save your judgement for a real life encounter.
 The 16th Joint Chief of Staff for the United States Military has dedicated a plaque to this plane. The CDF and the head of the aviation group that raises funds for firefighting aircraft on California are both involved with the research on this plane, and support the project.  So does the Navy veterans group that flew those craft in service. This is a great opportunity for pilots of this plane both from the Navy and the CDF to join forces and promote awareness in the public of the great  need for  of this type of aircraft in firefighting today!  Jordan was deeply dissapointed to not receive the logbook with the plane, so the research being done on the plane and the plaque have been extremely important to him from the beginning. It is very exciting to see the public gain an awareness of the role of this craft played in their safety at home and abroad. My longtime friend John Brosnan is a mechanic for a fighter plane in the airforce and I see how he loves ‘his’ plane. He knows every part. Every sound, every flaw. Even when he is home on leave he knows where “she” is.  Over the months as Jordan has spent tens of thousands of dollars, and many hundreds of hours turning this plane from ragged scraps to whole parts by hand, he has fallen in love with the plane. He knows every rivet, every panel, every hinge.And he wants the public to see her history!  When servicemen, especially mechanics, see the love and time he has put into the craft they will see that he has far from crashed her, but has put her on a pedestal and returned her to work.                   Please join us on November 21st at noon at Lenfest Plaza for the opening ceremony. Details to be posted at:                                                                                                                                     Best,   Caryn Kunkle


by: Jordan Griska


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