The mural “Indian Family at Routine Tasks,” which hangs in the lobby of the historic Coalgate, Oklahoma post office, was painted with federal Treasury Section of Fine Arts funds. It was painted by Acee Blue Eagle in 1942..
This one-story buff brick building with basement provides an example of the Modeme style. An alternating series of limestone pilasters and windows begins on the front of the building and continues around the northwest corner of the building and part of the way down that other side. The result is an asymmetrical facade marked by sizable, multipane windows. An Acee Blue Eagle mural, Women Making Pisha’a, decorates the south wall inside the post office. The mural was painted in 1942 for the Section, and has since been restored. It is recommended for further study.
Women Making Pishafa
by Acee Blue Eagle. 1942, tempera and acrylic on plaster.
Women Making Pishafa signaled the end of Blue Eagle’s involvement with the Section. The mural is a genre scene depicting the preparation of a flint com beverage, also known as pah sho fah, which is popular among Creeks and other tribes of a Southeastern origin. A woman at right pounds the soft corn into meal while a young boy rides his toy horse nearby. At center, two women separate the husk from pulp. The ramada behind them reveals a table set with multiple bowls and a coffee pot indicating that pishafa may be consumed as a soup or beverage. In order to balance the scene, Blue Eagle included the man at left who prepares to fire an arrow into the flock of birds passing overhead. The stylized contours and rosy cheeks he used in Women Making Pishafa later had a decisive influence on Native American painting in Oklahoma and continue to appear in the work of some contemporary painters.
Like many of Blue Eagle’s murals, the surface proved unstable and Creek artist Fred Beaver restored it in 1965.
- Thematic Survey of New Deal Era Public Art in Oklahoma 2003-2004, Project Number: 03-401 (Department of Geography, Oklahoma State University).
- The Living New Deal