Published on May 25, 2014 by Amy
Alexander C. McIntosh and a twin brother (who died four days later) were born August 17, 1907, (also listed as 1907, August 7, 1909, 1911)1 at Hitchita or Anadarko or Wichita Reservation, Oklahoma to W. S. and Martha Blue Eagle McIntosh, a Scottish father and Creek-Pawnee mother. Both parents died when he was young, and he lived with his grandparents, who also died during his childhood. W. R. Thompson, of Henryetta, Oklahoma, was appointed his legal guardian.
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Alexander C. McIntosh was the grandson of Alexander McIntosh, who was a grandson of Roley Roderick, Chief of the Creeks. Roley was half brother to the famous Chief William McIntosh (c.1775-1825).
Alexander McIntosh, grandfather of Blue Eagle, was a member of the Creek House of Warriors in 1887; an assistant judge of the Muskogee district for three years and in 1898 he was appointed Superintendent of Schools for the Creek Nation by Chief Isparhacher.
The name, Acee, comes from having been called “Ah Say” since he was a child and reflects the initials of his first and middle name. He took the name “Blue Eagle” from his maternal grandfather and the name “Che Bon Ah Bula” from his paternal grandfather, which translates, to Laughing Boy.
He attended Nuyaka Indian School near Bristow, Oklahoma 1916-1922; later Haskell Institute in Lawrence Kansas and Chilocco Indian School 1925-1928. In 1931 he studied at the University of Oklahoma Fine Arts. Later he rejected the mainstream style of art in favor of the emerging Native American style.
In the early 1930s he accepted a government job painting murals.3 His murals were to be found, among others, at Coalgate Post Office, Central State College of Edmond, Oklahoma College of Women at Chickasha, the Carnegie Library in Muskogee, Seminole Post Office and the Veteran’s Administration Hospital, Muskogee. A mural was also created for the U.S.S. Oklahoma, lost at Pearl Harbor.
Acee’s murals created with oil paint on bare concrete, an unorthodox style, suffered abuses from mold, water, and sunlight. Restoring them is virtually impossible. Funded by a grant from the Oklahoma Arts Council artists at University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma have elaborately restored in digital re-creations the huge murals.
A practitioner of flatstyle painting, Blue Eagle captured moments in detail of figures with patterns, colors and symbols with true authenticity in the scenes he depicted.
He lectured at the International Educational Conference at Oxford, England, lecturing throughout Holland and France on Indian art, dance, and song. He also gave a command performance in full Indian dress at Buckingham Palace. After he returned, he became the Art Director of Bacone College, Bacone, (near Muskogee), Oklahoma. He played a key role in what later became known as the Baconian Era c1935 in Indian Art.
Blue Eagle was an artist, painter, sculptor, ceramist, and dancer. Collections of his art are in many museums including the Philbrook and Gilcrease in Tulsa, Oklahoma and museums in Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Washington, D.C., and the National Museum of Ethiopia.
Thomas Gilcrease supported a number of artists during his lifetime including Acee Blue Eagle whose work was placed in the Gilcrease collection.
He had an art program for kids on KTVX in Muskogee before it became KTUL in Tulsa.
In 1936 he exhibited his work at the National Exhibition of Art at Rockefeller Center in New York.
In 1938 he resigned Bacone College to pursue art full time.
In 1939 he traveled to Mexico to study, then to New York to study with Wenold Waiss.
In 1943 he joined the Army Air Corps. Stationed at eighteen different posts he left behind beautiful murals at each one.
During 1946-1952, he was married to Balinese dancer, Devi Dja.
In 1958 he was voted America’s outstanding Indian and was also elected to the Indian Hall of Fame.
In 1959, the year of his death, the “Famous Oklahoma Indian” glass set commissioned by Knox Industries made an appearance in Knox gas stations across Oklahoma.
Many of his paintings can be viewed online at the Smithsonian Institution.
Acee Blue Eagle died June 18, 1959. An Indian burial ceremony was held on the grounds of the Gilcrease Museum in his honor. He is buried in the National Cemetery in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. His interment reads: Blue Eagle, Acee, b. 08/17/1907, d. 06/18/1959, US Army, PFC, Res: Muskogee, OK, Plot: 2 0 1007-B, bur. 09/12/1962