Acee Blue Eagle, Creek Artist
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Creek Tribe artist Acee Blue Eagle was well known for his artistic abilities and fine art paintings of traditional cultural subject matter. His paintings are collectible can be found in exhibits around the world.
Alexander E. Mclntosh and a twin brother (who died four days later) were born of a Creek-Scottish family on August 7, 1909 on the Wichita Reservation just north of Anadarko, Oklahoma. Acee [Blue Eagle] was the great-grandson of Roley McIntosh, Chief of the Creeks for 31 years. Roley was half brother to the famous Chief William McIntosh (c.1775-1825) who led the lower Creek Indians against the British in the War of 1812 and who fought alongside Andrew Jackson against the Seminole Indians. He was slain in 1825 by the upper Creek Indians who opposed his ceding Creek lands east of the Chattahoochee River to Georgia. [So, Acee Blue Eagle is considered to be Creek/Pawnee.]
Acee (a name derived from his initials, A. C.) attended Nuyaka Indian School near Bristow from 1916-1922, and then later attended Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kansas, where he played football and gave frequent Indian dance performances, and Chilocco Indian School, where he was trombonist and band major from 1925 to 1928.
He continued his education at the University of Oklahoma in 1931 to study Fine Art with Professors Edith Mahier and Oscar Jacobson. His affiliation with the University and Professor Jacobson brought him international fame and recognition. A prolific artist, Acee accepted a government job painting murals in the early 1930s. He painted murals for the Coalgate Post Office, Central State College at Edmund, Oklahoma College for Women at Chickasha, the Carnegie Library in Muskogee, and the Seminole Post Office. Because he did so much research on his subjects, traveling to New York, Chicago, and the Smithsonian studying the ancient traditions, rituals, and ceremonies, he had an impeccable reputation for authenticity, and he was never questioned as he went about his work.
In 1934, Acee exhibited eight paintings at the World's Fair in Chicago. One of his favorite works, commissioned by the Lions' Clubs of Oklahoma for the Battleship U. S. S. Oklahoma, was "The Buffalo Hunt." This painting, given to the captain of that ship in 1934 for the ship's library, is now at the bottom of Pearl Harbor.
In the summer of 1935, Acee lectured on Indian art, dance, and song at Oxford University as well as other European universities. He even gave a command performance in full Indian regalia at Buckingham Palace, greatly impressing the Queen and her two daughters, Margaret and Elizabeth (Queen Elizabeth II). His European appearances generated newsprint all over the world, and it is said that he created a "stir" wherever he went. When he returned from his continental tour, he became Art Director at Bacone College and played a key role in fostering what later became known as the Baconian Era in Indian Art. He resigned this post in 1938 to pursue his art full time.
In 1936 he was invited to exhibit his work at the National Exhibition of Art at Rockefeller Center in New York. In 1939, he traveled to Mexico to study the direction of contemporary art, then to New York to study with the famous Indian portrait artist Weinhold Weiss. His goal was to begin painting the famous Indian elders and full bloods that were rapidly disappearing. He also did many oral histories of old and famous Indians to record as much information as he could about their origins, history, and traditions before this knowledge disappeared forever.
In 1958, one year before his death, he was voted America's outstanding Indian, a long overdue honor.
After a full and rich artistic career, Acee died on June 16, 1959 at the age of 49, still at work as Artist in Residence at Oklahoma State University Technical Institute at Okmulgee. A sad irony is that he died almost penniless at the V. A. hospital of a liver infection. He is buried in the Fort Gibson Military Cemetery under a plain white marker.
Excerpt from an article prepared by Michael Kelley in 1991.
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