Pee, Sweat, and Maggots

...and one awesome artist

THU 4/15

Thought-provoking, articulate, and babe-alicious artist Michael Joo (at left in picture) comes to the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art (601 Lake Ave., Lake Worth) today to talk about his work. Often photographed with shaggy hair sticking out of a beanie, Joo looks more like a pro snowboarder than an intellectual with an MFA from Yale.

Joo's sculptures, installations, and videos deal with themes of energy, science, and identity. One of his pieces, called Saltiness of Greatness, begs the question: Can the value of your life be measured in terms of the physical artifacts that your body produces and leaves behind? For this project, Joo -- who was a pre-med student until art "saved my life" -- spent weeks researching how much four famous individuals -- Genghis Khan, Bruce Lee, Tokyo Rose, and Mao Tse-tung -- may have sweated. ""I contacted an endocrinologist," Joo says. "I determined the number of calories it would take to ride a Mongolian short horse." The result is "the Kool-Aid version" of sweat, a powder-like representation of all that those individuals had accomplished. "Everything but the human."

In another work, Joo uses a similar approach when he displays three vials of urine. The vials are accompanied by the words yellow, yellower, and yellowest, and the names Genghis Khan, Michael Joo, and Benedict Arnold. The viewer is invited to guess which labels refer to which samples. If, as Joo says, "you get past the fact that it's just pee," you can explore the meaning of yellow as a label -- something Joo did as a "byproduct of growing up Korean-American." In his latest piece, a video project called Circannual Rhythm, nine video loops are projected onto one screen. Filmed in Alaska, its images include maggots "interacting with the sculpture" of a dead caribou. Joo (along with curator Jane Farber) is in town for one day only before heading back to New York, where he teaches at Columbia University, Cooper Union, and Bard College. Presentation starts at 7 p.m. Free with museum admission ($3). Call 561-582-0006. --Deirdra Funcheon

MAC Daddy

THU 4/15

Any unhappily single guys out there? If you want the ladies to be all over you, take a lesson in attitude adjustment from Gordon Espinet, chief makeup artist for MAC Cosmetics. Every woman, he says, is stunningly gorgeous. "Whether she's goddess, vixen, or sweet, innocent waif, she is always beautiful." Now that's what we like to hear! In his job, Espinet establishes beauty trends for design houses, including Vivienne Westwood and Oscar de la Renta, at more than 100 fashion shows per season in New York, Paris, and Milan.

Unfortunately for the boys, Espinet is speaking to the fairer sex today during the last Women's Club luncheon of the season at Gulfstream Park (901 S. Federal Hwy., Hallandale Beach). Consider it an investment. Shell out 35 beans for the event and you'll walk away happier than David Gest getting a makeover by Tammy Faye Baker on Halloween. In addition to Espinet's priceless advice, you get a generous gift bag from Saks Fifth Avenue, a buffet lunch, and a $2 voucher for betting on the horses (No, Gulfstream Park isn't just a venue for Styx reunion concerts and lectures like this one. Horses race here too!). Call 954-454-7000. -- Deirdra Funcheon

Fun for Foodies

TV chefs on tour

SAT 4/17

"I hate the term celebrity chef," says celebrity chef Curtis Aikens. "I'm just a guy who loves to cook." Loving to cook has gotten Aikens far in life. As a high school student, he began working at the Conyers, Georgia, A&P Market. "I hung out in produce because that's where all the action was." Despite the fact that he didn't learn to read until he was 26, he got through college and landed a gig on the Food Network at its inception. Star of the show Calling All Cooks, the superjolly, inspirational Aikens is known for his mastery with fruits and vegetables and his efforts to promote literacy. He'll be at the Town Center Mall (6000 Glades Rd., Boca Raton) with fellow Food Network chef and Miami native Michelle Bernstein (Melting Pot) for Super Chefs Live!, an event featuring cooking demonstrations, wine seminars, and a cookoff. It's free and lasts from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Call 561-386-6001.

Diggin' the Indigenous

THU 4/15

If you learned about U.S. history from public school or, worse, from one of Lynne Cheney's children's books, you might believe that Christopher Columbus "discovered" America and that George Washington was more immaculate than Mother Teresa. Yeah, right. And Dubya is smart enough to know the definition of malapropism. If blind patriotism leaves you feeling less than Yankee Doodle Dandy (or maybe if you're a blind patriot yourself), you might want to check out the "Indigenous Film Fest" at Florida Atlantic University (Wimberly Library, 777 Glades Rd., Boca Raton). Its four films include Incident at Oglala, about Leonard Peltier; In Whose Honor?, which explores "racist" mascot images ; and Daughter of the Puma, about abuse of Mayans by the Guatemalan military. Sheridan Murphy, of the American Indian Movement, and Miguel-Angel Chiquin-Yat, of the Organization of Maya People in Exile, will be around to discuss. The event starts at 9 a.m., and it's free. Call 561-297-3772. -- Deirdra Funcheon

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.