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

Montreal’s Tam Tams: Dip into the Counter Culture

Montreal has this thing they call the Tam Tams. It’s a free drumming circle, anyone can join, either as a drummer, or a dancer, or one of hundreds of fans just there to enjoy the music and the sun, and the people on display.

It’s a weekly event in the summer, every Sunday starting around noon, going till sundown. Just look for the George-Étienne Cartier Monument in Mount Royal Park (the big-angel-on-a-stick statue). You can’t miss the sound of the drums.

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Seems like any instrument is cool, just join the cacophony. People bring all kinds of drums and percussion instruments. Everything from 4 foot tall carved wooden monsters to slick little hand drums made of fiberglass and mylar. Some guys have high tech body harnesses, some just sling their drum off a hemp rope. I also saw brass trombones, pan pipes, and a few things I didn’t recognize. There’s vendors nearby, you can buy finger cymbals or a tambourine if you want to join in. There are even belly dancing veils and jingling belts available, if that’s more your mode of expression.

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The main attraction for a sketcher like myself is the mosh pit of dancers. Everything takes place in a little corner, off to the side of the statue, backed on two sides by a 4 foot wall. This makes a little amphitheater that fills up with a mass of gyrating, bumping, and grinding bodies. The drumming never stops – one person gets tired, another steps in. It’s hypnotizing. You could dance - or draw - for hours without coming up for air.

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I hear this thing is a meetup for dope fiends, but to be honest, I didn't see any of that while I was there. I suppose they have secret codes to find each other in the crowd. I think that’s a thing if you want it to be, but most people are there for the sun, the music and the weird opportunity to merge into the tribe of drummers and dancers. If you ever thought a place had ‘good vibes’ – this would be it.

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