Break out the tissues, environmental artist Wyland appears tonight in Fort Lauderdale. OK, the one-named California painter's giant murals of sea life are Whaling Walls, not the Wailing Wall of religious repentance, but environmentalists and animal lovers can shed a tear of joy for his efforts. Wyland is a scuba diver as well as an artist, and his love of the ocean has him donating plenty of dough to marine organizations and spearheading ocean-related educational and research projects in schools nationwide. Oh yeah, and he still spends plenty of time creating art, and not just murals. After all, he has to keep his national chain of galleries stocked with fresh ocean scenes. He'll show up tonight from 6 to 9 at the Wyland Gallery in Fort Lauderdale (1213 E. Las Olas Blvd.) to greet fans and unveil the bronze sculptures Dolphin Speak and Dolphin Dream, several Lucite sculptures, and a lithograph titled Genesis. Admission is free. Call 954-522-4222.
When Florida railroad magnate, oil man, and developer Henry Flagler completed his Palm Beach mansion, Whitehall, in 1902, it was hailed by the New York Herald as the "Taj Mahal of North America." The ostentation of the Gilded Age required that Flagler impress. The porch of his immense, square house is supported by six columns, and inside the house is divided not just into rooms, but into wings. High ceilings are supported by thick beams, and ornate details include polished silver fixtures and intricate patterns carved into wood trim. Whitehall must have been -- and still is -- quite a place to throw a party, even though it's been a museum, not a home, since 1959. You may never make it to a soiree here if you don't run in the right circles, but Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief, managed to work Flagler's illustrious pad into the book after attending an American Orchid Society gala there. Her description of tuxedoed servants with trays of caviar probably captures pretty closely the essence of snooty shindigs at Flagler's place back in the day. Readers of the book can compare notes today, when the Flagler Museum, 1 Whitehall Way, celebrates its 40th anniversary with free admission from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 561-655-2833.
Playwright Tennessee Williams began with the ending of Suddenly Last Summer. The play is about a domineering woman who wants to pay off a doctor to give her niece a lobotomy in order to erase a traumatic memory. The memory is of the death of the girl's cousin (the aunt's son), who was killed by young men offended by his homosexual advances. But before the aunt came into the picture, Williams had written only the play's dramatic closing monologue, a graphic description of the death scene delivered by the cousin. Williams supposedly took the monologue to director Herbert Ross and asked him, "What should I do with this?" The director is supposed to have replied: "Surely that boy had a mother." From there Williams let his imagination run wild but incorporated elements from his own experience: His sister had had a lobotomy. The EDGE/Theatre group puts on the play through June 20 at Hollywood Boulevard Theatre (1938 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood). Curtain today is at 3 p.m. Tickets cost $10, $18, and $20. Call 954-929-5400. See "Stage" listings for a complete schedule.
When the description of one of the pieces reads "Mixed Media on Drawer," you know you're not at a fine art show. It's folk art, of course. The piece in question, Pregnant Woman, is one of several by South Florida artist Purvis Young in the exhibition "Folk Art Alive -- Contemporary Treasures." The abstract work is indeed painted on -- and in -- a disintegrating drawer. All of its surfaces are covered with squiggly swooshes of bright color representing stick women with distended bellies. Several other Young works hang on the same wall, each done on a dilapidated wooden furniture part. Also on view are works by 30 other artists, including paintings in various media and constructions of all sorts. Among the most interesting pieces are Jim Lawrence's life-size wooden house cats and a lamp-sculpture by an unknown artist, which is titled Madonna Is a Superstar and features a cone-breasted, bubble-butted material girl attached to a wooden lamp base. The show remains on view at ArtServe (1350 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale) through June 22. Admission is free. Call 954-462-9191.
Bird watchers usually use binoculars to get closeup views of shy, skittish feathered fowl. But magnification isn't necessary at Wakodahatchee Wetlands. The "constructed wetlands" area -- the name of which sounds like "Dakota" -- was created from unused Palm Beach County Water Utilities Department land. In this case fake is better than natural, because planners used a mosaic of native plants instead of a concentration of just a couple varieties. This in turn has attracted a greater variety of birds; some 140 species have been spotted since 1996, when the preserve opened. Since then the feathered friends have gotten used to people checking them out from the three-quarter-mile boardwalk, so they come near it without fear. Anhingas, egrets, great blue herons, mottled ducks, moorhens, American coots, and ibis are just a few of the bird species you can see during today's free guided tour of the wetlands at 9 a.m. Alligators, turtles, snakes, foxes, and even an otter may also be sighted. A tour on June 16 (4 p.m.) is the last one scheduled before the boardwalk is closed for repairs in July. Wakodahatchee is located at 13026 Jog Rd. in southern Palm Beach County. Call 561-641-3429.
Brenda Ezeilo at age seven left her native Nigeria with her family when civil war broke out. For most of the 27 years since then, the Boca Raton caterer has lived in the United States, but she learned traditional cooking from her mom and other female relatives. When she hosts a cooking demonstration and tasting tonight at 7:30 at Borders in Boca Raton (9887 Glades Rd.), she'll whip up some fofo, pronounced "foo-foo." The staple Nigerian dish can be made from rice flour or semolina. She plans to use rice flour, which is finely ground, mixed with water, and boiled, turning it into dough. The fofo is then rolled into a ball and served with meat and vegetable soup seasoned with curry powder, seasoned salt, garlic, and okra, which is scooped over the top of the dough. At least, that's how it's traditionally eaten. Ezeilo says she'll provide spoons to keep novices from splashing soup on nearby books. Admission is free. Call 561-883-5854.