Today we’d like to introduce you to Chris Lauer.
Hi Chris, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I walked through Gettysburg on a vagabonding adventure 13 years ago and fell in love with this quaint town and its community. After a few years of traveling, Gettysburg became home. I found myself occupying a warehouse studio space downtown where I made art and ran a bicycle taxi service (just me and one pedicab). Some friends and local artists started to join me in the studio and started dreaming of the possibilities. We soon had several working ‘studios’ a kool-aid bar and a stage for local musicians. Our first shows brought 80-100 people and we realized how much Adams County needed a creative space/venue that wasn’t a bar. We’ve been working and improving for the last 9 years and grown into a much better location where we can better connect local and low-income artists with all the resources to pursue their craft.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Waldo’s still has its fair share of challenges. We are a young team that is learning as we go. But our beginnings were particularly difficult. The warehouse space that we started had very little by way of amenities and, as artists and musicians, we didn’t have a lot of money for repairs. The space had no heat, very little electricity, and the plumbing was primitive at best. It took a lot of creativity to make that space work for the years we were there. At year three Waldo’s met with some (many) fire code requirements that forced us very suddenly to relocate. And we spent a year crowdsourcing funds and searching for space. The community showed incredible support and we were able to find a new and much better location where we are today. There are still a ton of growing pains as we solidify our mission and hone in on the creative community’s needs but we keep learning!
Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I studied studio art in college and had an experience common to a lot of artists that has helped inform what Waldo’s does. I had learned several mediums from printmaking to ceramics and had started to develop ideas around those mediums only to lose access to all of the equipment that my college provided once I left. That equipment, those pieces of machinery, are very expensive and there seemed to be no affordable way to keep playing with all that I’d learned.
Waldo’s is a very unique space in that we specialize in unfettered access (not just structured class times) to all sorts of equipment and tools in several mediums in the same space. And Waldo’s keeps memberships affordable by supplementing our income with a coffee bar and gallery.
Do you have any advice for those just starting out?
My approach to art is often one of trial and error. It is how I learn what works and what doesn’t. Community and organization building are not all that different. Try new things, new approaches, every error can teach you what will work. Just keep trying!
- Memberships to the Tradeshop from $35-$95/mo
- Coffee Bar Drinks are by Donation only
- Studios are $125/mo
- Whole bean coffee is market price