Meet the Correspondent: Marina Grechanik > Tel-Aviv, Israel$show=/search/label/Marina%20Grechanik

"Sketching is one of my passions. I don't feel comfortable when I leave home without a sketchbook and some pens in my bag. I think that my way to put things in my memory is to draw them. And taking pictures isn't the same thing.

I live in a very dynamic surrounding — Israel is a warm country with warm weather and warm people. Of course, we have seashores, which calm us a little bit. I love to sit in a corner of some Tel-Aviv coffee shop and explore relationships: between people, their environment, between myself. All this unique local mix of cultures, languages and styles is always a great source for inspiration. You need to be fast, because, as I said, everything is very dynamic. But that's why I love it so much.

Sometimes, I look around, and I find some usual items like sugar bags or napkins. I use them in my drawings to show the atmosphere. Sometimes I draw directly on placemats."

• Marina's art on Flickr.
• Marina's website.

Meet the Correspondent: Tina Koyama > Seattle$show=/search/label/tina%20koyama

"The dictionary says that a hobby is “an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation.” Although urban sketching certainly provides both pleasure and relaxation, I don’t think of it as my hobby. I think of it more as a way of life – something that has become such a normal part of my everydayness that it shapes how I view the world.

For most of my life I had both the fear of drawing as well as the desire to draw. In 2011, inspired by Gabi Campanario’s Seattle Sketcher column, I finally decided to overcome the fear. His drawings of Seattle – my birthplace and lifelong home – were of sights that I had seen many times, yet had never truly seen. I wanted to learn to see, and therefore experience, those locations (and any new ones that I travel to) more completely. Part 8 of the Urban Sketchers Manifesto, to “show the world, one drawing at a time,” has a flip side: Sketching enables me to see my own world, one drawing at a time.

In the last four years, it is not an exaggeration to say that Urban Sketchers has changed my life. I have met and sketched with many wonderful people around the globe, either at symposiums or during other travel, because the USk network brought us together. I sketch almost weekly with my local group, sharing sketches, art supplies and friendship. Even when I stay home and enjoy sketches online, I am still a part of that rich network, learning with every sketch about other people’s lives.

In May, my husband Greg and I went to France for the first time, and I sketched the Eiffel Tower. Sketching one of the world’s most famous icons felt like a dream come true – the ultimate in urban sketching. But although I can’t resist sketching world-famous icons whenever I’m fortunate enough to see them, for me, urban sketching is much more than that.

Urban sketching is a tree with its middle chopped away to accommodate Seattle’s ubiquitous power lines. It’s about a couple of women chatting over coffee, or about workers roofing the house next door. It’s about an excavator filling a hole where a cherry tree once stood. Or the Tibetan monastery I drive by frequently that I couldn’t resist because it’s bright orange. Urban sketching is a string band performing at a local farmers’ market – or perhaps in Villefranche-sur-Mer.

Celebrating the mundane as well as the famous is what urban sketching is all about. My sketches are not necessarily about “special” moments; they are moments made special because I sketched them."

Tina has been editor of Drawing Attention since 2013 and now serves on the Urban Sketchers editorial board. See more of her sketches on her blog, on Flickr and on Instagram.

Meet the Correspondent: Pete Scully > Davis, Calif.$show=/search/label/Pete%20Scully

"I am from urban north London, but now live in urbane Davis California. I sketch, I write, sometimes do things and go places and my name is Pete.

When not Davis, I sketch Sacramento, San Francisco, London, or anywhere else I happen to be. I tend to erase people and cars from my cities, but I'm starting to get over this.

Davis: calm, old-fashioned, progressive, quirky, very very hot in the summer. I use micron and copic pens, with watercolour."

• Pete's blog.
• Pete's art on Flickr.

Meet the Correspondent: Suhita Shirodkar > San Jose, Calif.$show=/search/label/Suhita%20Shirodkar

"I was born in Mumbai (Bombay) and lived in different parts of India until I moved to San Jose, California, where I now live.

Travel inspires my art, but, traveling or not, I try to view the world around me as a traveller would; so whether I’m capturing a moment of calm on the banks of the Ganges in India, or sketching over coffee at my local coffee shop, I aim to look deeply, and with wonder, at both the everyday and the exotic, the old and the new.

I love color. My sketch kit consists of Extra Fine Sharpies (the fact that they bleed into the paper as soon as they touch it works really well for me—it forces me to work super-quick), a small set of Prismacolor pencils and a little watercolor travel set".

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

Neema Bahrami the Pulse Events Organizer.

By Thomas Thorspecken,  Orlando FL

Neema Bahrami never wears red. Yet on the night of June 12, 2016, he wore a red shirt to his job as the Latin Night event organizer at Pulse. Someone joked with him that he should change his shirt since red is the cause of evil. Toward the end of the evening he walked to the front of the club to cash out. There are chains that hang over the entry. He  didn't see the shooter enter the club. He thinks he must have entered by the back gate. He later learned the gunman's car was parked back there. Then he heard the bangs. There is a DJ that incorporates the sounds of gun shots into his music mix, but he was not the DJ that night. Neema looked into the dub and saw muzzle flashes. People ran toward him. A young boy fell on him. He gathered the employees up front and got out. There was a policeman right outside, who told everyone to go to Dunkin' Donuts. The gunman came to the entry at a glass waterfall and began shooting towards the cop. Neema wrote on Facebook "Omg I can't believe this please God." Followed by, "I am safe everyone give me a minute trying to make sure the staff and guest that are with me are safe."

When police arrived, they began firing into the club entry. Neema was concerned about friendly fire. Outside, he got a cell phone call from an employee still in the dressing room. He informed police that he was on the phone with someone inside. People inside had to live through three hours of the worst fear imaginable. Dancers hid in cabinets. he realized, that if an air conditioner unit was removed, then the employees could crawl out through a hole in the wall. He drew a diagram for police. There were nine employees trapped in that room. Police didn't take his advice. He says he was near the AC unit when he heard a loud explosion. Police had blown open a wall to the bathroom. Moments later, the gunman was shot dead.

Unharmed survivors were herded into a bus to go to the police station. Neema's interrogation took just 5 minutes. No phones were gathered as evidence. After the interrogation he was released with no ride, out into a sea of waiting reporters. His dear friend Eddie Sotomayor didn't make it out alive. When he finally got home Neema collapsed and cried. He sees signs of Eddie everywhere he goes. In the weeks that followed, a comfort dog sat in his lap. The dogs name was Eddie. A tree had the names of all 49 victims and, as he stood looking at the tree, Eddies name fluttered free and dropped to the floor at his feet.

The next day, he found a paper heart taped to his door. It said,"Love is free, hugs are free, we all love you." Because of this sign of hope Neema decided to create the Hang a Heart Foundation, which promotes love regardless of religion, race or gender. He feels that, if any good came from that horrible night, it is that people are learning to accept the gay community. It has opened peoples hearts. Churches invite them in to make paper hearts.

Neema has been traveling with Pulse club owner Barbara Poma to NYC Pride,  Memphis Tennessee Pride, and Palm Springs Pride along with a endless string of fundraisers. He said, that if Barbara rebuilds, Pulse will be bigger and better than ever. He showed a photo of a gorgeous rainbow colored tree. "Wouldn't that be gorgeous in the club" he said. In the meantime his life is on hold. His only income is from donations. He is angry at officials who said they would help. He filled out form after form seeking help. However only people who were shot will eventually get funds.

One month after the shooting he returned to the club. In the empty space, he felt the souls touching him. The place was stripped bare. "They took the TV, they took the money." He walked into the dressing room and all feeling left his body. In the bathroom he could feel the trauma. There is no greater terror.




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