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Art Basel Miami is over, so you can finally start enjoying the most wonderful time of the year—and there's no better place than in New York. While you're busy running around buying last minute gifts, set aside some time for yourself to appreciate the artistic treasures of the city. The Upper East Side is definitely the place to be this time of year, especially Madison Avenue. Maybe you associate the neighborhood with Mad Men or the cruel world of 1960s advertising, but put that aside and head uptown because the Upper East Side gallery scene is one of New York's better-kept secrets.


Madison Avenue, named after James Madison, the fourth President of the United States, is host to both prestigious fashion brands and major galleries, such as Di Donna gallery. There's just one week left to explore surrealist landscapes in an exhibition of works on loan from foundations and private collections by major artists such as René MagritteJoan Miró,Salvador Dalí, and Man Ray, among others. Just up the block at Yoshii GalleryMakoto Ofune is exhibiting his uniquely serene pieces, including his new stone sculptures. This Japanese New Age contemporary artist is known for reinventing traditional Japanese methods, and encouraging viewers to get lost contemplating his meditative work.

Next door, take a leap into the past with sculptures and works on paper by H.C. Westermann showcased as part of “See America First," a solo show at Venus Over Manhattan. Having served as a soldier in the U.S. Marine Corps during both World War II and the Korean War, Westermann draws from his personal history to present an image of America that is at once nostalgic and romantic. Next, don't miss “New Land…New Life," the stunning exhibition at Keith de Lellis Gallery, presenting vintage photographs by Marvin Koner documenting the migration of an Italian family to America—more now relevant than ever. In the spirit of the season, stop by Waterhouse & Dodd, whose current exhibition benefits the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Drawings and photographs by five artists are on view, among them Jay Zukerkorn and Tom Shannon, who are artists living with Parkinson's disease.

Head a few blocks over, and seize the opportunity to see some more top-shelf art by heading to Hammer Galleries to admire their exhibition dedicated to the masters Matisse and Picasso, or to Leslie Feely, currently displaying a selection of paintings by Jules Olitski that explore light and color through his diverse painting techniques, processes, and materials.

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to enjoy the happiest season of all—especially for art lovers.