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1974 Miles Burkholder Carpenter Born: Brownstown, Pennsylvania 1889 Died: Petersburg, Virginia 1985 carved and painted wood, metal, paper, rubber hose, rubber bands, string, sawdust, and ballpoint pen and ink 12 7/8 x 13 3/8 x 12 in. (32.7 x 34.0 x 30.5 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson 1986.65.237 Not currently on view

Luce Center Quote

"Since there is so much fuss and talk about Water Gate for a year or more I decided to create and put together something that shall be called Water Gate for people to see in reality." The artist, quoted in Miles Carpenter, Cutting the Mustard, 1982

Luce Center Label

Folk artist Miles Burkholder Carpenter carved WATER GATE in 1974, the same year that Richard Nixon resigned the presidency during the Watergate scandal, which had erupted two years earlier. Like antique toys that use sand or water to activate different mechanisms and create movement, WATER GATE invites the viewer's engagement through its moving parts. At right, Mr. Nixon stands behind a gate, holding copies of his tax returns. On the other side of the gate rest four stacked books made from cut-up copies of Reader's Digest, representing the transcripts of the Watergate hearings. Two pieces of string, when pulled, open the gate and move the president through. The well at left, where buckets carry water along a looped chain, completes the animated work.


Architecture Exterior - detail - gate

Architecture - other - well

History - United States - Watergate

Occupation - political - president

Portrait male - Nixon, Richard

State of being - evil - imprisonment


folk art

metal - iron