ARTIST Dierdre Hyde says she couldspend the rest of her life painting aboutwater and she would never tire of it.“You try and look for a person whodoesn’t have a strong interest in water andthey’re a dead person,” Hyde said.The English artist’s work, on displayat the National Museum, in San José,varies in technique and style, but the unifyingtheme of water ties the exhibittogether.The exhibition “Oda al agua,” is partof the Festival FertileMother Our Earth. Theexhibit’s goal, like thefestival (TT, June 11), isto make people moreaware of their environment.“WATER is soimportant and it’s sucha huge theme that forthe first month I wasreally floundering,wondering how I wasgoing to do this,” Hydesaid.The opening June 4 was well-attendedby an even mix of Ticos and expatriates.The artist, wearing a short black velvetdress, spent the evening switchingbetween English and Spanish to greet herguests.In addition to paintings, Hyde hasmade colorful collages with friend and calligraphistNoel Payne. Payne and Hydewere both excited about the works becauseit is a new medium for Hyde and because itwas Payne’s first time as part of an artexhibit.Payne copied poems by greats of theSpanish language, like Neruda, in gold lettersthat were later glued on in flowingforms meant to represent water.AT the opposite end of the one-roomexhibit, a crowd gathered around a largeand colorful painting representing CocoIsland, which is the area that Hyde fell inlove with and made her decide to stay inCosta Rica for the past 25 years.The painting’s bright colors, interestingangle and wide variety of animals naturallydrew in the crowd.Hyde contacted the National Museumand asked permission to hold an exhibitthere. Although she has had one exhibitthere in the past, the museum generallydoes not hold painting exhibits. But thistime, they told her they had an opportunitysince they needed apainter for the festival.They asked if shewould like to paint thetheme of water.“I keep painting allthe time and it’s nicewhen people give me atheme,” Hyde said.“It’s good to be givensomething to focus onbecause otherwise youend up dispersed.”HER works touchon almost every aspectof water: waterfalls, clouds, animals thatlive in or near water, rivers, the ocean, contamination,and so on. The body of workalso has several underwater scenes.“My intention is to draw attention tothe uses of water, the beauty of water andthe way we take it for granted,” Hyde said.“I just want to focus people on water. Icould spend the rest of my life just paintingabout water and it would be great.”The exhibit runs through June 30 at theNational Museum, Av. Ctrl 2, Ca. 17. Themuseum is open from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.Tuesday-Sunday.Entrance is ¢1,700 ($4) for tourists and¢500 ($1.15) for nationals. Call 257-1433for more info.