Summer arts preview: Top 5 visual art picks

What better way to cool off on a sizzling summer day than to find inspiration at a local museum? Here are five exhibitions worth leaving the beach for the afternoon.

“William L. Hawkins – An Imaginative Geography”

This African-American, self-taught artist lived most of his life in Ohio working as a laborer. His inspirations came from his surroundings and include landscapes, cityscapes, historical scenes and animals and are characterized by bright colors. His name, birth state of Kentucky and birth date of July 27, 1895, are boldly emblazoned on each piece. The approximately 60 pieces are part of a traveling exhibition organized by the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa. June 9-Aug. 26. Mingei International Museum, 1439 El Prado, Balboa Park. $7-$10. (619) 239-0003.

“Epic Tales from Ancient India”

Traditional art from 16th- to 19th-century India will be explained through the stories behind the paintings. These stories include tales of the Hindu god Rama, Lord Vishnu, Persian heroes and other literature about love, music and the seasons. The 90 pieces are from the San Diego Museum of Art’s Edwin Binney 3rd Collection, which is one of the most comprehensive collections of South Asian paintings outside of India. The exhibition will also feature workshops, musical performances, dances and storytelling. June 9-Sept. 3. San Diego Museum of Art, 1450 El Prado, Balboa Park. $8-$15. (619) 232-7931.

“Maidy Morhous: Ordinary Stuff”

The Del Mar-based sculptor’s pop art series is meant to engage viewers and make them think. Some pieces deal with serious subjects such as life, existence and the environment while others are created just to bring a smile. Morhous works almost exclusively in bronze, intrigued by the way the hard metal can be shaped into sensuous curves. June 30-Oct. 7. Oceanside Museum of Art, 704 Pier View Way, Oceanside. $5-$8. (760) 435-3720.

“LGBTQ + San Diego: Stories of Struggles and Triumphs”

AIDS, bullying, discrimination along with activism and community engagement will be presented in this exhibition on the region’s LGBTQ population. The center is also arranging to display a portion of the AIDS Quilt that has ties to our area. July 8-Jan. 20, 2020. San Diego History Center, 1649 El Prado, Suite 3, Balboa Park. No admission fee, but a $10 donation is suggested. (619) 232-6203.

Athenaeum Juried Exhibition

The 27th annual juried show from artists who live, work or exhibit in San Diego County consists of a variety of media from paintings to photography and video. Last year, 41 artists were chosen from more than 1,000 entries. Aug. 4-Sept. 1. Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, 1008 Wall St., La Jolla. Free. (858) 454-5872.