Venice Artist Diane Butler

  • Memorial Tribute: Venice Artist Diane Butler – Mary Getlein
  • Song: There’s a ghost at every corner – Diane Buter
  • Poem: To Diane Butler – Suzanne Verdal
  • Poem: My Humble Ode to Diane – Tina Catalina Corcoran
  • Poem: For Diane – Mary Getlein


By Mary Getlein

The Venice community lost a valuable member when Diane Butler, 59, died on February 11. She died from an aneurysm and two strokes.

Diane was a central figure in the struggles of the homeless and RV dwellers in Venice. She was a community activist, artist, singer and drummer in Ibrahim’s Drum Orchestra.

Diane and Ibrahim were instrumental in the Venice art scene, with their bi-annual Solstice gatherings, called The Circle of Color. It was held at Sponto Gallery, from 2001 to 2009. Diane participated in all 93 weekly Venice Peace Walks down Ocean Front Walk after the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Ibrahim organized a celebration of Diane’s life on February 19th. A big shrine dedicated to Diane was erected by people who knew her. There were lots of candles, teddy bears, flowers and paintings. People left offerings all through the day. It was a wonderful send-off for Diane – many old friends showed up and played amazing music for Diane, and for us.

The music was great and lots of people danced. Diane always encouraged people to dance with her. Throughout the afternoon, people would spontaneously shout Diane’s name. Diane’s mother, Virginia, and Ibrahim’s father, Daniel, sat in special chairs in the drum circle. Daniel Butler talked about how Diane was up in Heaven, hanging out with his wife. Many people talked of Diane’s warmth and generosity. She gave of her time and her heart. She was a wonderful artist, singer, activist, mother, wife, daughter and friend.

Diane is survived by her husband, Ibrahim Butler; her mother, Virginia Ruffolo; her daughter, Lani Ware; son-in-law, Caan Hamlet.

Song by Diane Butler
There’s a ghost on every corner
As I walk through this town 
In the softness on the night
There’s a ghost on every corner
calling out my name
Telling me that is where, I belong
(Chorus) There’s a ghost in every corner
Calling out my name
There’s a ghost on every corner
Calling out my name
Telling me that this is where I belong
Telling me that this is where I belong
My name is written on the sidewalk
My tears have spilled onto the ground 
Friends call out to me
That long since passed away
Filling the nite air with the mysteries
of life
(Repeat Chorus)
My spirit rests in every tree
I’m a mermaid in the sea
a child on the shore
a dancer in the sand
Flying with the gulls 
drifting overhead.

To Diane Butler

Oh Diane!

I’ve seen the unraveling

Of your heart’s desire

For Peace …

Not just for you

But all of Earth’s inhabitants.

The undue stress

Left you undone.

By the L.A.P.D.,

By the sins of Babylon.

For some, this is a culture.

But now your paintbrush

Sings lighter

Across the canvas

Testimonies to

The Venice Dance.

I said Goodbye,

And saw your angel

Hover over

Our smiles and tears.

Sleep sweetly, my Sister.

With much love,

-Suzanne Verdal


My Humble Ode To Diane
“Mary” said it ALL:
     (…alive and NOT well …)
     In Paradise…
Now — It hurts like hell —
A hole, in the heart–
     Of Paradise…
(Oh, Diane — Oh, Diane)
So OUT THERE — for ALL —
To see, Know, Love, BE, 
     In Paradise…
“Give Me Liberty” or “Give Me Freedom”
     “Give Me Life After Death”
       Where The Pain Meets The Sea — In Paradise…
With Deep Love, 
–Tina Catalina Corcoran
For Diane
you made me laugh, so much
we both saw the crazy humor
in all the madness
all around us 
you were so magical
you know you are – not were
you –
I can see you dancing
in the clouds
adding a little more pink to the sunset
the Blessed sunset of Venice
I’d go down there and sit
and all my friends came by
all the spirits of Venice
are here –
That’s a secret –
don’t tell anyone
anyway, we all know who’s 
supposed to know
Philomene certainly did –
watch the flickering films of Venice
you will see scraps of
wizards, witches, healers, artists,
clowns, magicians, and musicians
we need all we can get
plus the endless sea of humanity
that descends every weekend
and drives the residents crazy.
Diane –
I love you!
Thank you for sharing yourself with me
you taught me so much
your big wide open smile
that embraced everybody.
Babies – you love babies
baby birds, baby humans, dogs
seagulls, pigeons, especially pigeons –
gypsy music in your soul
the same relentless thing that drives
any artist –
you have to do it –
it’s not a choice –
it’s a gift that’s been given to you
and you gotta play with it –
so –
you embrace holy poverty as well as any monk
but your poverty
was backed by drums and drummers
dancers drawn to the drums
dance, dance, dance – 
how cool is that?
there were no dry eyes in the orchestra –
they played their hearts our at your memorial
we danced – like crazy gypsies!!!
The old and the young, all the homeless of Venice
and the housed of Venice
came too –
your smile embraced everyone –
you are our dancing flower-child
This old Black man was drunk
and this guy was buggin’ him –
and he said:
“Go away, don’t bother me –
I lost my home girl today and
I’m hurting.”
That’s how I feel –
she is going home to a golden pure place
that she’s been dreaming of for years
and put down in her paintings –
enter the world of Diane’s art –
beautiful wishes of mothers, children,
Martin Luther King, Native Americans –
angels, birds, people – all floating by, in Diane’s world.
Anyway –
you are my home girl and
I miss you with an ache –
but I know
you’re home, just like you were home here.
This is your home,
Venice, CA 90291 – 
and you will always be here
dancing all around us, 
that smile that appears and disappears –
that will be you, Diane –
telling us to get up off our butts –
and DANCE!!!
Thank you for your example
of a Beautiful heart, soul and mind
and the Best Friend anyone could have –
She loved you with a direct love –
a direct line to your heart –
She was so encouraging –
never a discouraging word –
that was Diane –
She was – she is – she always will be.
Love, Mary.
–Mary Getlein