World-renowned graffiti artist and art historian Roger Gastman spoke to Santa Monica Arts Commissioner Michelle Edgar Credit: Thomas Leffler

The Viceroy hotel in Santa Monica was host to the second installment of city cultural conversations on Nov. 16, holding the Culture Collective’s curated event series with guests Roger Gastman and DJ Jason Bentley.

Hosted by the Culture Collective marketing agency’s founder and CEO Michelle Edgar, who also serves as Santa Monica Arts Commissioner, the event featured a sitdown interview with Edgar and Gastman, a world-renowned graffiti artist and art historian. Gastman is a connoisseur of all things art, founding the graphic design publication Swindle Magazine and being part of films like Banksy’s “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” which earned an Academy Award nomination for best documentary.

Gastman’s love of local art is seen through his Los Angeles flagship gallery, Beyond the Streets, which hosts area artists’ work and continues to expand since its opening in September of last year. “Each show we add more music, more fashion, more things that are the tentacles, the arms of the octopus of this great pop culture,” he said.

The Culture Collective event series is a celebration of Los Angeles’ wide variety of art and media projects, with Edgar hand-selecting guests that represent “trailblazers” that have “stood the test of time” with their artistry. She noted that she wants Santa Monica to be on the pulse of what’s happening in the arts and entertainment world, trying to be ahead of the curve and cultivate forward-thinking art projects.

“Thinking about that production, that special content … that unique collaboration, unique conversations, we need an experience that will ignite community … I want to make sure everyone can meet and have a dialogue and find collaborative partners for their various [endeavors],” Edgar said.

She commended the Viceroy for being a willing partner in the process, as the hotel will continue to host future Culture Collective events. Viceroy Brand Director Danny Samora said that with his background in events and the music industry, he also wanted to put forth critical conversations about art culture.

“We have great music [events], but I like to break it up and do something that’s more educational and informative, and supports the arts,” Samora said. “I think we accomplished that.”

The next Culture Collective event is set for February, with the returns on the first two gathering a positive step for the arts commissioner.

“I’m just very grateful … I see that the topics and experiential events I’m creating are exciting for the community … [that] gives me more motivation, more inspiration, [it] makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing,” Edgar said.

Thomas Leffler has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Journalism from Penn State University and has been in the industry since 2015. Prior to working at SMDP, he was a writer for AccuWeather and managed...