It’s July in Exeter, NH, and that means the annual American Independence Festival is about to begin. Due to Covid, this year it is on three weekends instead of the usual packed crowds jammed into one weekend. This year they are adding in more about the soldiers of African descent. Nice!
This spring, I had been working on this painting I call “Jude Hall at the Powder House.” When it was still unfinished it became a focal point in my pop-up art-installation on Juneteenth 2021 in the park.
Now it is finally finished, so I presented it as a gift to the American Independence Museum Their fancy yellow building on the hill is where Jude would go to collect his military pension. I wonder if he ever imagined there would be a painting of him on the wall in the room where they kept (and still keep) the strongbox??
I have no idea what Jude really looked like, but accounts of that time say he had dark skin, and was very large and strong. I imagine him as a Shaquille O’Neal type, so that’s how I painted him.
The 1771 Powder House is a pride and joy of Exeter, NH. It once housed the powder that was used at the Battle of Bunker Hill. So both Jude and the powder were at the same place on that fateful day. I thought about that a lot as I sat at my easel in front of this historic brick building on the river.
Another thing I though about was the tragedy of three of his free-born sons. Do you see those three light bricks near Jude’s eyes? They represent his three grown sons that were stolen into slavery. Jude seems to be looking at you, but he is really keeping his eyes on those three bricks. So am I.
To end this blog post, here is a summer gift for fans of my mystery book about Jude Hall, “Incident at Exeter Tavern”. You keep asking for a map, so I sketched one out this past rainy weekend. Enjoy your Revolutionary walkabout 🙂