The Laurel of Asheville

Aug. 9: Opening Reception at Toe River Arts Council Gallery


Although Allen Benowitz began his professional career as a court reporter, he soon transitioned into photography, capturing images that tell stories from both at home and abroad.

As one of the nation’s most prominent travel and culture photographers, Allen will present some of his work in the exhibit, “Through the Lens of H. Allen Benowitz: From Burnsville to India.” Hosted by the Toe River Arts Council Gallery in Burnsville, the exhibit runs August 10 through September 7.

Allen spends his time between his home in Florida and quaint log house in Burnsville. With shows in both states, he has won multiple awards, including Honorable Mention in the 1976 International Kodak Contest.

Although he recently transitioned from film to digital, Allen sees the pros and cons in both styles of photography. He explains that he misses the color saturation and quality of film, saying “it has provided great depth and texture, a trademark of my work, which helps give the viewer a visual feel of my photos while taking them to another dimension. However, digital offers many creative opportunities, which I will embrace.”

An adventure travel photographer, Allen has trekked all over the world for business and for pleasure, always taking pictures along the way. “I consider myself a life sampler,” he says, describing his style as taking unstaged portraits of the people and architecture wherever he travels.

In his mini-retrospective, “From Burnsville to India,” he explores the dichotomy between the majestic mountains of Western North Carolina with people from more poverty-stricken nations such as South Africa, Cuba, and India.

Allen shows the beauty and serenity of the Blue Ridge Mountains through his landscape photos. He also shows snapshots from his overseas travels, depicting the vibrant personalities of people on the streets of other nations.

“I came from less than means in Brooklyn, New York, and I identify with people who are poor,” says Allen who saw firsthand the financial strife that exists worldwide in Cuba, India, and elsewhere. “I wanted to capture how they live in their poverty, their occupations, as well as their smiling experiences. I wanted to share with others how fortunate we are and that we should appreciate what we have here in this country.”

The Toe River Arts Council Gallery is located at 102 West Main Street in Burnsville. A reception will be held Friday, August 9 from 5–7 p.m. The Toe River Arts Council is a nonprofit organization that focuses on education and communication in the arts in Mitchell and Yancey Counties.

For more information about Toe River Arts Council Gallery, visit online. To learn more about Allen Benowitz visit online.  Adrian Etheridge is a passionate photographer studying art and mass communications at UNC-Asheville.