Does life imitate art or is it the other way around? Local artist Joe Sinness offers no easy answers but instead plays it both ways, combining portrayals of real-life queer folk with remnants of old-Hollywood glamor. “The Flowers,” his new exhibition opening at the MAEP gallery at Mia on Thursday, revels in the overlap between desire and performance, everyday people and iconic celebrities. Cinematic panoramas, portraits, still lifes, and theatrical sculptures transform the quotidian into utopian fantasy, teasing the viewer with possibility and pleasure. Sinness incorporates colored-pencil drawings, vintage physique magazines, and film interpretations of cruising to create provocative images that depict carnal yearning as a form of empowerment. His intricate, seductive, and erotic interpretations of marginalized communities are often paired with natural elements like clouds, fruit, and flora. His is a refreshing, winsome take on the broad spectrum of human sexuality. The North Dakota-born, Minneapolis-based artist is a graduate of St. John’s University, and holds an MFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. There will be an opening reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, July 20, and an artist’s talk at 7 p.m. Thursday, September 21.