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February 12, 2024

Tony’s & Luke’s Local Launch Art Contest For Local Kids; Tony’s Pizza Appears In Indie Film

by Joe Bonadio

It’s already February somehow, and not surprisingly, we have much to report.

Following closely on the heels of the launch of his unique local billboard program, slated to feature six local artists on two full-size billboards over six months, last week Tony announced a brand-new art contest—and this time, it’s all about the kids.

Tony’s Pizza Napoletana and local grocer Luke’s Local have partnered up with North Beach’s Saints Peter & Paul School to create an art contest that’s all about celebrating art in the schools, and giving back to the community.

By working with Saints Peter & Paul School, Tony hopes to spotlight the artistic talents of young students in our community, and give local kids a much-needed outlet for their creativity. “Art in schools has long been underserved, but it’s absolutely essential,” Tony says, emphasizing the crucial role of art programs in education.

Tony poses with the girls' second grade class of Saints Peter & Paul School, who are the first to participate in the student art contest. | Photo Courtesy of Tony Gemignani

Tony poses with the girls’ second grade class of Saints Peter & Paul School, who are the first to participate in the student art contest. | Photo Courtesy of Tony Gemignani

“Who doesn’t like art? Who doesn’t like pizza—and what little kid doesn’t like going to the grocery store with their parents or grandparents?” Tony asks, pointing out the universal appeal of the contest.

Students will be given a blank canvas, and each will have the chance to submit their original drawings for the contest. The best among them will be chosen to appear on Tony’s 12” takeout pizza boxes, as well as Luke’s Local tote bags.

Tony speaks to the students and faculty at the launch of the contest in North Beach last week. | Photo Courtesy of Tony Gemignani

Tony speaks to the students and faculty at the launch of the contest in North Beach last week. | Photo Courtesy of Tony Gemignani

“For every classic Italian or classic American pizza sold in the winning box, we’re donating $0.25 to the school,” Tony explains. “On the other side, Luke’s Local is going to make a reusable tote bag with the winning art on it. For every bag sold, they’ll donate a dollar.”

And as Tony stresses, in this contest there are no losers. “Every kid wins, because at the end we’ll have a pizza party for every class.”

The winning designs will add a splash of artistic flair to everyday items, and provide inspiration for young people just beginning to explore their creative potential.

Much like Tony’s billboard program, the contest is all about encouraging local art and artists—and as always, promoting North Beach. “I’m always excited to see the incredible talent in our community,” Tony says. “And this is just one more way for everybody to support it.”

Tony also recently threw his hat into another genre of the visual arts: independent film.

“A couple of years ago, I invested in a movie. It’s an independent movie called LaRoy,” Tony shares. “A friend, Nhan Nguyen, reached out to me about it; he knows me, and that I’m always interested in something new.

“Part of the movie takes place inside of Tony’s. And I was credited as Associate Producer, because I had some say in it—which really wasn’t a lot.

“The movie has already won some awards,” Tony tells me. “I’m actually going to Paris for a film festival where it’s screening later this year. You can look it up on IMDB.

The beautiful Saints Peter & Paul Church, the center of the North Beach community. | Photo Courtesy of Tony Gemignani

The beautiful Saints Peter & Paul Church, the center of the North Beach community. | Photo Courtesy of Tony Gemignani

“Shane Atkinson directed it, and he has worked with the Coen brothers, who I love. And this movie is kind of in that vein,” Tony explains. “Danny Glover was originally supposed to be in the movie, and I like Danny Glover—Bay Area guy, spends a lot of time here.

“But it didn’t work out, and Steve Zahn ended up being cast in it,” Tony says. “He’s a really good actor, and he’s had a couple roles I liked. Jared Harris is in it, John Magaro, Galadriel Stineman.

“Anyway, it ended up being chosen for San Francisco IndieFest. Julie and I got free passes, so we got to see it here, and that was cool. It’s been at Tribeca Film Festival in New York, it’s on that circuit.

“And you almost never see this, but the movie’s had a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes for a while now. That’s pretty impressive,” Tony says. “It’s great to see it doing so well. I’m proud to be a small part of it.”