SOAP LAKE — Brent Blake, architect, artist and mastermind behind the much-publicized plan to erect a huge Lava Lamp in tiny Soap Lake, died early Tuesday.
Blake, 72, had been fighting leukemia for a year.
Blake retired from his Seattle architect consulting business to Soap Lake in 2000, quickly becoming known for his flamboyant ways and creative ideas in the former spa town. He purchased one of the town’s old spas and turned it into an artist studio, gallery and later the Soap Lake Art Museum (SLAM).
One of Blake’s ideas was to build a giant Lava Lamp that would revive Soap Lake’s drained economy by drawing tourists to the lakeside town.
Nothing was built, but publicity from the zany plan, hatched in 2002, put the town on the map and did bring in tourists and other artists. Target donated a 65-foot-tall working billboard of a Lava Lamp to the town in 2005. The billboard had been used to publicize the store chain in New York City’s Times Square. It was disassembled and moved to Soap Lake but no one knew how to put it back together. Another plan — developed in 2010 to build a new imitation Lava Lamp — is still in the works, but many details — including raising more than $1 million — have to be worked out, said city officials.
“Brent arrived at a time when Soap Lake was ready to make a transition to an art community,” said John Glassco, a longtime friend and Soap Lake city councilman. “He was the icebreaker. He challenged people to create. He made the idea of art attractive to almost everybody in town.”
Glassco said Blake will forever be connected to his Lava Lamp idea, but that was only one of many ideas he tossed out to get people thinking. Another was redirecting water over nearby Dry Falls.
“Many of his ideas were impossible. But that wasn’t important to him. What was important was the idea itself,” he said.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Monday, Sept. 30, at the Moses Lake LDS Stake Center, 1515 S. Division St., Moses Lake.