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

Vila Maria Zélia- Boys School

This Sunday I went to the first village workers of São Paulo, on a tip from my dear friend and also a member of the Urban Sketchers, Eduardo Bajzek.

I went by subway and was picturing in my fertile mind how would this place be like, with its old houses, flower gardens, cobbled streets ...

The place is called Villa Maria Zelia and it was built in 1912, if I remember correctly. A short time compared to the old buildings of our European colleagues, but to São Paulo this village should have a historical value, because shortly before it, the city was a small village.

Arriving there the scene was not as beautiful as I had imagined. The houses of the workers had almost all been refurbished and uncharacterized and in the worst way.The old colonial wood windows had mostly been replaced by tiny aluminum windows. The facades were covered with horrible porcelain or didn't keep anything from the original front, increased by incorporating the small garden that once stood in front of each house.

The old restaurant and schools for boys and girls were almost in ruins, without roofs, with trees growing inside the buildings.

The church is the only building that remains standing and in use that was not decharacterized.

I made some drawings, I talked to older residents, with some children who were dropping little bombs by noisy surroundings. One resident told me that the institution responsible for keeping the historical assets of São Paulo, Condephaat, showed up one day saying that the villagers should restore their homes and leave them as they were originally. But why doing this now, after so many decades of neglect and omission? And that responsibility of preserving the architectural identity of the site is ONLY for owners?

I came home with that feeling of nostalgia and that we really are not a country that wants to preserve our history. It seems we want to forget we've ever had a past. Here in Sao Paulo is so, we drop the old and beautiful houses to build ugly neoclassical buildings full of security guards, grilles and no history.

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