In the fall of 1957, William Paterson Ewen joined the ranks of the twenty-or-so artists that exhibited at Galerie Denyse Delrue, one of the rare Montreal galleries entirely devoted to non-figurative art. He exhibited there on an almost yearly basis from 1958 to 1963. Also in 1957, Ewen won the Prix des Laurentides as part of the Concours artistiques de la province de Québec. He showed no artistic bias and never claimed membership to a particular movement. Instead, he relied on notions of lyricism and small-scale intimism, as seen in Kaleidoscope (1957), rendered as cadastres seen in bird’s-eye view.
“It was Ewen’s circumstance in the abstract painting circles of late 1950s Montreal to find himself not so much late (as in behind), but rather between (as in unaffiliated), not so much a follower as an explorer”, writes Matthew Teitelbaum. “When collegues referred to him as “the prospector,” it was surely because, unlike artists who encapsulate energy in a community, he seemd always to be seeking, trying to take hold of and possess a way of finding that secret subject inside.” Ewen found further affinity in the works of Montreal artists Ulysse Comtois, Rita Letendre, and Marcelle Maltais; among New York artists, he most admired the work of Adolph Gottlieb, Bradley Walker Tomlin, and John Ferren.