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Jelly Belly Collection of Bean Art

FAIRFIELD, CALIF.  – Large scale portraits of famous personalities and classic Americana subjects all made in mosaics of thousands of Jelly Belly® jelly beans are in the private collection of Jelly Belly Candy Company. The permanent artistic creations were commissioned by the manufacturer of Jelly Belly beans, and selections may be seen in traveling exhibits, around the world, and on free public tours of the company’s Visitor Centers in California and Wisconsin.

The Jelly Belly Collection includes portraits of Elvis Presley, Abraham Lincoln, Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night”, Ronald Reagan, Amelia Earhart, Laurel & Hardy, James Dean, a Native American chief, Pope John Paul II, Martin Luther King Jr., the Statue of Liberty, the Marilyn  Monroe, Asian “good luck” Dragon and others.The Starry Night, after Vincent Van Gogh, by Kristen Cumings 2011.

A portrait of former President Ronald Reagan is currently on display at the Reagan Library in Simi, Calif. The six-foot tall portrait of Lady Liberty was selected by the American Crafts Museum for its 1988 show on “The Confectioner’s Art” which traveled across the country for two years. The portrait of Abraham Lincoln was first unveiled by Governor James Edgar in the Illinois Governor’s Office where Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address resides.

In 2010 the Guinness World Record was set in Shanghai for the largest candy art. The 39-foot-long art piece is made of 629,000 Jelly Belly beans was on display at the 2010 Shanghai Expo.

Jelly Belly Art was the brainchild of San Francisco artist Peter Rocha, the self-proclaimed king of Jelly Belly art in 1982.  After President Reagan publicly expressed his fondness for Jelly Belly beans, artist Peter Rocha tried some himself. He was immediately impressed with the range and brilliance of the colors of the beans.

He began with rough pencil drawings using photographs of the subjects. He then painted a tight color composition and finished his unusual work by applying a mosaic of Jelly Belly beans.

The first portrait, appropriately of President Reagan, took Rocha over six months to complete as he painstakingly dipped each bean in the glue and placed it in a mosaic pattern. He ultimately refined his process, developing a faster method and more polished look by preparing the beans in the trays, applying them in groups of colors and correctly placing the final beans with chopsticks or by hand. Rocha retired in 2000 and his nephew Roger Rocha, took up the calling.

Roger Rocha is a San Francisco artist and grandson of contemporary artist Clifford Stills. He apprenticed to learn the jelly bean artistry from his uncle Peter, who created the first piece of Jelly Belly art in 1982. Roger created the 2002 portraits of Queen Elizabeth II, the iconic Marilyn Monroe and George Clooney portraits which can be seen on the company’s art gallery on the web site JellyBelly.com.  

In 2006, Chicago artist Tracy Ostmann was commissioned to make two portraits of the animated character in The Ant Bully movie.  In 2002 she created art pieces for the Shedd Aquarium, where she made a clown fish, trigger fish and shark portraits from thousands of Jelly Belly beans.  She also made a portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. for the University of Pennsylvania.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Catherine Middleton, by Malcolm West, 2011In the United Kingdom, artist Malcolm West created several pieces of Jelly Belly Art. His first piece was in 2005, a portrait of English comedian, Paul O’Grady. He was the first to create 3-D Jelly Belly Art taking it a new direction. His first 3-D piece was of Mr. Selfridge of Selfridges department store in London and in 2012 with his version of The Crown Jewels made for Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee. He made “Let It Be” of The Beatles, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Catherine Middleton with over 11,000 Jelly Belly beans for each portrait. Portraits can be found on www.JellyBelly-UK.com and on display in several stores across Britain.

In 2009 Martinez, Calif., artist Kristen Cumings was commissioned to make a tribute to the California grizzly bear. This 6-foot tall portrait, made of 14,000 Jelly Belly beans, is the first Jelly Belly Art piece to be made in public, when the artist created it over several weeks at the “It’s a Candy Nation” exhibit at the California State Fair. She has continued to create the Masterpieces Collection, larger-than-life reproductions of famous pieces such as Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” and Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night,” all in Jelly Belly jelly beans. The eight-piece collection has exhibited in museums across the country since 2011. In 2013 Jelly Belly commissioned a new Jelly Belly Art collection featuring the beauty of endangered animals on land, in air and sea. The first three pieces in the Endangered Species Series are a Hawksbill Sea Turtle, Rockhopper Penguin, and the Great Green Macaws.

The Jelly Belly Candy Co. introduced the Jelly Belly bean in 1976. The company currently makes over 100 year-round and seasonal gourmet candies at its company headquarters in Fairfield, Calif., and two additional manufacturing facilities. The company is a family-owned business now in its fifth and sixth generation of candy making. Additional information is available from the Jelly Belly Hotline (800) 522-3267 or at JellyBelly.com. Connect with us on Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and Google+

Tags: Jelly Belly Art, Jelly Belly Artists, Bean Art, Jelly Belly Tradition,