'Help the city heal' Phil Ponder says he's honored his painting is becoming a Second Avenue mural

Phil Ponder
Posted at 6:19 PM, Dec 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-09 19:49:32-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — In a way, it makes perfect sense for a man like Phil Ponder, to have his head in the clouds. For the last 50 years, it's defined his artwork. "This is the newest skyline," said Phil Ponder, as he thumbed through his creations. "I’m just honored that people like what I do."

But soon, his work will be up there too. After the AT&T Data Center took a direct hit during the Christmas Day bomb, executives knew they needed something more modern that could also still fit in on the historic block. So they pondered.

"They said, you know, we’d really like to see your artwork," said Ponder.

Ponder thought they might just need his painting, Market Street Too, for reference. Instead, it'll be a recreation. "This was the primary Market Street for Nashville. That’s why it was called that before Second Avenue," he added. "They took it out of the glass and frame so they could study it, and said, this is what we want to use."

Murals are nothing new in Nashville, but this will be a new concept. This mural inspired by Ponder's work will be as tall as the Second Avenue buildings themselves. "This would be a mirror image of what the buildings used to look like before the bombing on the other side of the street," said Ponder.

In many ways, it's an ode to the original Second Avenue and Ponder's origins into the world of painting. "That was my earliest, that was the first thing I did," he said.

Because while he's used to painting the skyline, he never expected he'd become a piece of it. "I’m just extremely blessed that I’m able to be a part of that to help the city heal," said Ponder.

The mural is expected to be completed by next summer.