"A Sense of Place, Photography by Bob Reichley" at Ursinus College is a 40-piece show of color pictures from far-away places, but this is not your typical travelogue.
The exhibit by Reichley, an Ursinus alumnus and former chair of the college's board of trustees, spins with quite a kaleidoscopic vision - a mix of imagery, but not anything we usually think is meant by travel pictures, which these works are.
Indeed, there's no travelogue stereotype here, or any preconceived form to the occasional unassuming and informal portraits by Reichley, a former vice president of Brown University who lives in Providence, R.I.
In these color pictures of Eastern and Western Europe, the Middle East, Hawaii, Alaska, China and South Africa, Reichley shows a sure sense of composition, but not as a static thing sufficient unto itself.
For him, it's a means of achieving clarity, precision and emphasis in conveying the substance of living experience in cultures different from our own.
And in a mysterious way, each photo tells something about the man behind the camera. Reichley hunts "back streets" for subjects that tourists don't see.
His work is particularly refreshing. These are pictures without tension or distress. If respectful photography means letting the subject be what it is, then Reichley's photography of the last 20 years respects what he's pictured. Fine show.
Ursinus College's Kaleidoscope, at the campus' Ninth Ave entrance, Collegeville. To June 15. Tue-Fri 10-4, Sat-Sun noon-4:30. Free. 610-409-3000, Ext. 2352
Cheltenham Art Center. The juried 72-artist 65th annual awards painting exhibit at Cheltenham goes its own way, disdaining artistic fashion in its leisurely pacing, staying true to its energetic, likable lineup of talent.
This year's artists come from four states and four Pennsylvania counties; Montgomery has 34 and Philadelphia 20 to lead the field.
Thora Jacobson chose a show that has quicksilver moments of humor, insight and compassion. Prize-winning oils by Peter Schnore of Boyertown and Irma Barness of Cherry Hill provide the show's keynote.
Schnore seems to offer an icon of place in his handsome, pristine city overview, Reading. This painting supports a spiritual relationship with the urban environment so we can do a better job of preserving and revitalization.
Whether people can respond to such an effort may have an effect not only on regional art but on Reading itself.
Barness' evocative Sandbox Group of a woman supervising children favors stylized realism, a fresh viewpoint on everyday experience, and personal color, including green outlines.
Cheltenham Art Center, 439 Ashbourne Rd, Cheltenham. To May 25. Mon-Fri 9-5, Sat 9-3; Tue, Wed, Thu to 8. Free, 215-379-4660.
Wayne Art Center. Back to basics? The Wayne Art Center is doing something exemplary about basics, with its "Plein Air" painting exhibit.
This 33-artist display of 154 works painted "in the open" reflects renewed interest among artists in going outdoors, setting up an easel, and painting on site.
Even this, Wayne's first such show, is an example of current plein-air painting of the best kind, accessible to any thoughtful viewer. Impressive, too, is the enormous energy expended in planning and carrying out this exhibit.
For starters, artists had to go through a jurying process to participate in the four-day painting "bee" on April 25-28 at locations near Wayne. And only the 154 works that 33 participants from six states painted on those four days are in the resulting exhibit.
David Lussier, a Connecticut plein-air artist, whose works with their painterly touch are distinguished by the authenticity of their feeling, merits his top prize among the 18 award winners. The new "annual" is off to a flying start.
Wayne Art Center, 413 Maplewood, Wayne. To May 26. Tue-Sat 10-4, Sun 1-4. Free. 610-688-3553.