Community celebrates Blake's vision, mourns his passing

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Pictured from left: Andrew and Nell Kovach, Braden Blake, John Glassco and Brent Blake's nephew Todd Blake at a reception in Brent Blake's honor. Blake, 70, died recently from leukemia.

SOAP LAKE - The who's who was out Monday night in honor of Brent Blake, Soap Lake visionary and resident, who died last week of leukemia.

The service took place at the Church of Latter Day Saints in Moses Lake, where Blake's son, Braden Blake, and Soap Lake resident Danika Nolton sang, and friends told funny stories of their youth with Brent Blake.

The group proceeded to the Soap Lake Cemetery, and then to the Soap Lake Art Museum (SLAM) building in downtown Soap Lake.

Many of those in attendance showed two faces, one in real time and color, and one that was big, bright and smiling, captured in large canvases on the wall, painted by Brent Blake. Portraits included Soap Lake mayor Raymond Gravelle, Brent Blake's significant other Anna Fazio, and architects Andy and Nell Kovach, of Everett. Stacks of televisions, another of Brent Blake's art installations, showed a series of events and projects the artist accomplished in his lifetime in the community.

There were not many questions like, "How do you know Brent?" or "Where are you from?" The attendees seemed familiar with each other and comfortable being shoulder to shoulder.

The SLAM building is well known and celebrated for holding an event every couple months, and they were always packed with music and dancers, Masquers Theatre Director Beverly Hasper said. Soap Lake resident Nolton said she was not really related to Brent Blake, but felt like family.

Brent Blake had many relatives there, his children, Braden, Tiffany and Velvet Cooper, and their spouses and children.

"The funniest thing he ever said to me was, 'No way, no way would I want to be eaten by a bear.' He was awesome and eccentric, a great dad," Velvet Cooper's husband, Russ, said.

Tiffany and her sisters, including Braden's wife, Kristen, were adorned in their father's work, with recent pieces of fine silver jewelry, to cute little pins received when Tiffany was seven.

The family members are not the only ones determined to carry on Blake's work.

Nolton is inspired to live her life like his, with positive spirit.

The city is determined to carry on Brent Blake's artistic vision, and his name, long time friend and Soap Lake city councilmember John Glassco said. He said the city has plans to rename Astor Street after the artist, but are still debating whether it will be dubbed Blake's Way or Brent's Way.

The Kovachs, along with their son, Alex Kovach, have been working on ideas to make the Lava Lamp financially and technically feasible, Braden Blake said. He said their idea is to use a series of lasers instead of a liquid fill, to make the lave flow inside the lamp. Braden Blake said they have a realistic plan, and now are looking to raise funding and maintain interest to carry the torch of one of Brent Blake's most infamous projects.

Russ Cooper also wanted to share George Allen, Sr.'s quote for his father-in-law, for whom he saw it fitting.

"Each of us has been put on earth with the ability to do something well. We cheat ourselves and the world if we don't use that ability as best we can."

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