DARKE Gallery's Thursday Open House: Pizza, Wine and Rubber, Courtesy of Artist Kathryn Kelley

If you've ever gone to a gallery opening or art exhibit and wondered, "How do they do that?" you can now find out first hand. DARKE gallery, nestled in the backstreets of Rice Military, invites the public to come in for some pizza and watch the current artist-in-residence, Kathryn Kelley, in action.

We jaunted over last night to see what it was all about and found Kelley taking a break from her work. She has been calling DARKE home this summer, filling its walls with her distinctive, enormous, pleated installation pieces. Last night, she was finishing up the show's most dominating piece, a massive swathe of tucks and folds that, from a distance, resemble some sort of metallic bark or thick animal hide. Upon closer examination (and touching when I thought she wasn't watching), I found that it was made from a very pliable material -- rubber. "Feel it," she said. "People always do it when they think I'm not looking."

Her textile of choice comes from discarded tractor tires. She slices them like fabric and has her own process of "sewing" that involves industrial-size staples. When questioned where the concept came from, she relayed a story of her own popped tire, a gas station and a crazy idea. She's been working with rubber tire material since 2007.

Her upcoming show, "the edge of my unreadiness," opens at the DARKE on Sept. 2. Her current work is an interpretation on the notion of change and how unsettling change can be to a person. Whether change is for better or worse, it never ceases to alarm -- similar to a giant rubber sculpture. She compares the piece in question to a "pregnant pause"; looking inside the folds, it has almost a womb-like feel to it.

The Thursday open houses happen through August from 4 to 7 p.m. They get you not only an inside look at how Kelley's art is made, but also pizza and wine. Definitely worth swinging by.

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