Tag Archives: Tess Meisel

Daniel Lanzilotta’s Trashy Art

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Which means there are tons of treasures downtown.

Take, for example, the little green (and non-biodegradable) plastic stirrers you get with your Starbucks coffee.

Daniel Lanzilotta says they cause havoc when they get into storm drains, and the nearby Saugatuck River.

So he makes them into sculptures.

That’s just one way he turns “street debris” into art. He’s got many other pieces — and they’re on view right now in the Westport Library Riverwalk (lower level) display case. Fittingly, it’s just a few steps from Starbucks.

Daniel Lanzilottsa wears one of his creations.

On Wednesday, May 31 (6:15 p.m., McManus Room) the library hosts a reception for Lanzilotta. He’ll give a talk on environmental issues at 7 p.m., followed by a discussion with Earthplace representatives.

The topic: How Westport can address and remedy some of the issues raised in his talk.

Lanzilotta is the right man for the job. An artist, environmentalist and chef, he’s seen this town from many different angles.

As a member of Celebrate Westport, he helped create the Farmers’ Market with Michel Nischan. Lanzilotta also helped design First Night Westport’s “Trashin’ Fashion” program for kids.


“My work brings consciousness into the waste stream,” Lanzilotta says.

In downtown Westport, he finds all the inspiration he needs.

(For more information, click here.)

Tess Meisel’s “Love Begins”

The death of Tess Meisel — a 12-year-old Coleytown Middle School musician, actor, environmentalist and fun-loving girl — in a 2011 Maine motor vehicle accident rocked all who knew her. Her friends vowed never to forget her.

Fellow Coleytown Company actor Vig Namasivayam — now a Staples junior — grew close to Tess’ mother, Suzanne Tanner. She’s a composer of musical biographies. During a 2013 visit, they got the idea of making a musical celebrating Tess’ life.

Suzanne wrote the music and lyrics. She asked Vig to direct it.

He was hesitant at first. But it grew into an amazing story, with a great cast. Vig now calls it “my pride and joy.”

where the love begins“Where the Love Begins” is a mother’s tender memoir of the child-rearing years, from birth on. Suzanne will be onstage, at the piano, reflecting on a turbulent but profoundly poignant period in her life, by being a narrator of sorts.

She hopes the show will inspire others  to cherish time with their loved ones, and offer perspective on what is truly important in life: family, friendship and faith in the beyond.

The show will be performed in the Staples auditorium on August 21, 22 and 23. All proceeds go to the Tess Meisel Scholarship Fund — helping students who share Tess’ passions for the environment, musical theater and poetry — and other related charities.

But to give away money, Vig and his friends first have to raise funds — for costumes, sets, lights and auditorium rental and a special program, filled with Tess’ poetry.

The 1st benefit for the show is Saturday, April 11 at Toquet Hall. Cast members will perform songs from “Where the Love Begins.” Members of Wreckers in Tune and the band C4S will also play.

Tess Meisel

Tess Meisel

A number of Staples students are acting and doing tech work. Samantha Galvao, who was in the car crash with Tess, is technical director. Others are doing lighting, stage managing and choreography. Suzanne — Tess’ mom — will help instruct the actors and musicians.

She and Vig are honoring Tess’ commitment to environmentalism by using recycled items and making ecologically responsible choices.

It’s pretty clear that the love that began for Tess continues long after her death.

[For tickets to the Toquet Hall benefit via Facebook, click here. There is also a “GoFundMe” site for donations — click here to help.]

Unspeakable Sadness

For the 2nd time in less than 3 weeks, Westport has been rocked by the death of a middle school girl.

Kate Reardon collapsed yesterday at Bedford Middle School, and died of an apparent brain aneurysm.

On August 17, Coleytown rising 7th grader Tess Meisel was killed in van accident in Maine.

Kate Reardon

A Facebook tribute page — R.I.P. Kate Reardon — is filled with tributes to the girl who performed in many Bedford shows.

Friends remembered Kate’s “big smile and gorgeous curly hair.”  They noted how she greeted everyone in the halls; how she brightened everyone’s day; how her energy radiated to those around her.

“You were always there when anyone needed a helping hand, or just a good laugh,” an older girl who knew her wrote.  “You could always put a smile on my face, especially with your awesome hugs!”

Just after noon today, some wrote:  “Can everyone please wear blue to school on Tuesday?  It was Kate’s favorite color and we all want to celebrate the memories that we had with her.”

Bedford will no doubt be filled with blue on Tuesday — the color, and the emotion.

Middle schoolers there and at Coleytown will begin the school year missing friends, classmates, lively girls with limitless futures whose lives were cut short far too early.

And for days to come, parents throughout town will hug their children a little more tightly, whenever they’re near.

Services Set For Tess Meisel

Calling hours for Tess Meisel — the Coleytown Middle School student killed in a motor vehicle accident Maine — are set for this Sunday (August 21), 2-6 p.m. at Harding Funeral Home, 210 Post Road East, Westport.

A memorial service will be held on Monday (August 22), 11 a.m. at the Unitarian  Church, 10 Lyons Plains Rd.

Tess Meisel

Born December 27, 1998 in Los Angeles, Tess was the daughter of Suzanne Tanner and Gary Meisel, of Westport and Los Angeles; sister of Jacob Meisel, 15; granddaughter of Mary Tanner and the late Jack Tanner, of Mashpee, Massachusetts, and Harriette and Emiel Meisel, formerly of Westport and now of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and proud owner of her new 7-month old puppy, Celli — named for the orchestra section at Coleytown, where she was to enter 8th grade.

Tess was first and foremost a healer, her family said.  Her tenderness, genuine empathy and radiant smile provided her the tools to help others, which she practiced daily.

Her family added:  A natural giver with a humble heart, she offered random acts of kindness and love to all she encountered.  She never lacked for creativity or ideas and pursued each of her ventures with determination and zest, including a small business she started selling her handcrafted jewelry to raise funds for  polar bears.

In 2010, she won Connecticut’s top environmental award at the state Invention Convention for her design of a reusable pizza box.

Tess enjoyed many activities and hobbies.  She was a member of Coleytown Middle School’s chamber and all-school orchestras, Westport Recreation Soccer, and Coleytown Company, where she most recently participated in “Fiddler on the Roof.”

She also enjoyed rowing crew; riding horses; crafting jewelry made from beads, gems, rocks and sea glass she scavenged, and dining.  She was an avid reader, poet and writer, working on her first novel.

Her family said:  She was a faithful friend to many and an inspiration to all.  Her loving spirit continues to embrace each of us in her aura.

Donations in Tess’s memory may be made to the Tess Meisel Memorial Fund at the Westport Public Library, 20 Jesup Road, Westport, CT, 06880.

Click here to leave an online condolence note.