Bernard Kester, exhibition designer extraordinaire, is somewhat of a legend here at LACMA. The combination of his gentlemanly demeanor, wry sense of humor, and impeccable design sense make him much beloved among many LACMA staff. When I met Bernard, it didn’t take long to realize I was in the presence of greatness. Greatness in a bow tie, that is. Perfectly tied in beautiful colors.
One day, new work shirts arrived in our offices; they were plopped down very close to Bernard’s desk. Nearly every time he passed the work shirts, he exclaimed how “dreadful” they were. Poor Bernard seemed positively tortured by the banal and practical creations inhabiting his space.
So what to do? Torture him more, of course. Knowing that this refined character was also a fan of a good joke, I started thinking about how I could take his disdain for the shirts and channel it into something wonderful. I decided to make him a bow tie out of one of the shirts which would otherwise have been discarded. It helps that I just happened to know someone who can make a bow tie with her eyes closed: my mom. So, I sent the shirt to my mom, who sent back a perfect little bow tie. Expecting he would never be interested in wearing it, we in the Operations Department put our heads together to decide how to present it. We enlisted Gallery Services to build a little case with scrap wood and Plexiglas. Art Prep and Installation wrapped a deck with a beautiful silk and mounted the tie to museum standards.
Presented with the object of his abhorrence transformed into a stunning bow tie, Bernard was giddy. He immediately tried to try it on, and has threatened that one day he will wear it to work! My mom is working on the necessary alteration as I type…
Eileen Dikdan, Exhibition Designer