NYC periodontist Dr. Nicholas Toscano doubles as a street artist with a powerful message.

DR. NICHOLAS TOSCANO’S office is located on East 63rd Street in Manhattan, but where the periodontist truly thrives is at the grittier intersection of dentistry, models and street art.

Destined for dentistry since he was in middle school, Dr. Toscano happened upon New York’s art world much later, after 13 years in the Navy—and in its aesthetic maelstrom his alter ego, No. 1 Public Enemy (a.k.a. “1penemy”), was born. “I started treating a lot of artists, and I loved the vibe,” he says of his 2009 return to the city.

As the official dentist for more than 30 modeling agencies around New York, he created 1penemy as a nod to his patients in the chair, with his work depicting fabricated mug shots of well-known models. “My art is about a woman’s struggle,” he explains. “The #MeToo movement has shed light on the way women are seen as sexual objects taken advantage of by those in power positions.” Dr. Toscano donates portions of proceeds from his art sales to groups that support women who have been victims of domestic abuse.

It’s a strong visual message, to be sure. “I put up posters all over New York City,” he says. “Street art is a great way to get art out there and known fast.” You can find his work on Instagram @1penemy. Among his recent projects: teaming up with the mask company CastleGrade to promote the use of facial coverings to help slow the spread of Covid-19.

I’ve improved tremendously through this outlet,” Dr. Toscano says. “It’s my escape from the drudgery. My art and I are very different now from when I began—and the advantage of social media is that the message spreads very quickly.”

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