Meet the Correspondent: Omar Jaramillo > Berlin$show=/search/label/Omar%20Jaramillo

"I was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where I studied architecture. I moved to Kassel (Germany) in 1999 to accomplish a master degree. Although I have always drawn and paint, it was not until I started studying in the Uni-Kassel, that I started keeping a travel sketchbook. I had a teacher there who used to do a lot of sketches when he travelled on university excursions. When he retired, I helped to organize an exhibition of his sketches. He brought a huge box full of sketchbooks he had filled since he was an architecture student. I spent a whole day selecting the most interesting drawings. It was a wonderful experience that opened my eyes to a new world. In the last 10 years I have the feeling of being in a long journey. I like to discover the cities where I live, to understand why a place is the way it is and what makes it different and unique from others. Drawing is for me a way to learn to love a place, to become part of it. I like to draw architecture but I am more attracted to urban scenery, portraying how people live in the city. Since I’m a foreigner, everything that locals find normal and taken-for-granted, for me is exotic. I always carry a small watercolor travel set from Windsor and Newton and my sketchbook in my bag. I always thought that drawing was a solitary experience until I found Urban Sketchers. It was amazing to find so many people doing the same thing. It is a great place to share!" • Omar's blog. • Omar's art on flickr. • Omar's website.

Meet the Correspondent: Luis Ruiz > Malaga, Spain$show=/search/label/Luis%20Ruiz

The Singing Christmas Trees - Habor Room

The First Baptist Church in Orlando holds a huge Christmas show called "The Singing Christmas Trees" each year. I have never been to the show before, but this year the director, Aradhana Tiwari, invited me in to witness how this huge production is put together. First Baptist is a large complex with many buildings and I got a bit lost trying to find the Harbor Room where the auditions were to be held.
When I entered she was explaining to everyone how the auditions were to run. In the hallway there were a series of rooms each assigned a specific task. One room was for measuring actors for costumes and others were for various paper work that needed to be filled out. A release had to be signed which would allow the church to broadcast the show on National Television. Everyone was issued a number, I was number 60, so I am assuming there are at least 60 actors in this cast. Aradhana's mom was put in charge of all the children. She had sock puppets made and the kids might stage a mini play satirizing their parents roll in the production.
When everyone got back from all the paperwork and measurements, Aradhana asked them to stand in a large circle and hold hands. She prayed on every one's behalf that any nervousness or actors jitters might be calmed. She asked that everyone in the room be able to serve with a glad and open heart.
There was a break before the dance auditions began and I had a chance to talk with a dancer named Rachael. She came to Orlando thinking it would be a good place to get her actors equity card but it has been years and she is still working as a temp for Disney. She came from a small town with a small Lutheran Church. She is a member of First Baptist now and finds it a contrast to the small church of her youth, but she loves the theatrical aspect of the place.

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