On Saturday, May 13th, operators of the art gallery located within Milepost 5 noticed four pieces from The Surreal Life and Art of Keith Dillon collection were missing. The suspected thieves removed to artwork sometime between 5 a.m. and 11 a.m., according to Sarah Gerhardt, president of the Milepost 5 Studios Artists Collective. The art exposition is on the first floor of Milepost 5 Studios & Apartments at 850 NE 81st Avenue. A fundraising campaign is underway to secure safe storage facilities for the remaining artwork. People with knowledge of the art’s whereabouts are encouraged to share with Gerhardt or the Portland Police Bureau (PPB).
Pieces currently on display are part of a memorial art exhibition celebrating the artist’s life, making this theft even more difficult for the community. “I’m devastated by this and angry. His work is stunning and deserves the visibility he never got while here,” said Gerhardt. “Now, not only am I trying to find the pieces. I am trying to get a storage facility secured and raising funds to pay for it a year or two in advance. That way, not only can I store his pieces but also other artists’ stuff.”
Dillon was a photographer and surreal digital artist living at Milepost 5. He advocated for keeping the artist community alive within the building and inspired Sarah Gerhardt’s current efforts to revitalize the artistic roots of the complex. The building has faltered from its original intent as a low-income live-work space for artists. Opening in 2007, it was a unique housing project that was supposed to bolster the arts. However, residents have struggled with security concerns over the last few years and have seen reduced access to creative spaces. Although some improvements are underway, this recent incident indicates gallery activities require more security.
Many Milepost 5 residents wish to change the narrative around their building and reinstitute the artist collective. This loss of art will not deter those efforts but will reprioritize the fledgling non-profit’s priorities toward protecting the art. Gerhardt asks people with information about the art’s location to contact her at 503-990-5547 or email Officer Brooks at Andrew.brooks@police.Portlandoregon.gov with information regarding case number 23-125240.
Correction: The artist’s name is Keith Dillon. A previous version of this article used a misspelled version of the last name.